Whether you’re a new immigrant, an expat moving for work, or a foreign student, getting issued credit when your credit history resides in another country is frustratingly difficult. That’s changing as incumbents and fintech startups continue to work on solutions.
American Express is announcing it has joined forces with a cross-border credit reporting startup, Nova Credit, to launch a first-of-its-kind digital capability that enables newcomers to the U.S. to share individual credit reports from five international bureaus when applying for an American Express U.S. Personal Card and potentially get approved instantly.
This makes American Express the first global payments company to offer immigrants and expats to the United States the ability to use Nova Credit’s Credit Passport technology to instantly translate certain international credit reports into a U.S. equivalent credit report and score during the online application process.
Sara Milsten, svp of new member acquisition for U.S. consumer services at American Express, is our guest today on the Tearsheet Podcast.
The voice of the customer
We continuously stay current on the market, thinking about innovation and solutions we can bring to current and prospective cardmembers as they look for new products.
The challenge of cross-border
We’ve known that cross-border movement is a challenging experience from our customers and from our colleagues at American Express. It is very difficult to move cross border and port your credit history from your home market with you. It can result in a very cumbersome and delayed process in getting a new card product or establishing a financial foothold in the United States.
Making the decision to address the cross-border challenge
The trigger for this announcement was the opportunity and connection with Nova Credit, as they have brought a really elegant solution to a very fragmented, global problem. We are excited to be the first and only issuer in the US to pursue this opportunity.
We had looked at and developed in-house solutions, but they weren’t as slick or seamless an experience as what we’re introducing to the market right now.
Sizing the opportunity
In terms of scale, there are over 10 million immigrants and visas issued over the past five years. These are largely people who are coming to the United States to study and pursue professional opportunities. These folks are highly educated and as they get here and look to build their lives, they find that it’s incredibly difficult to jumpstart their financial lives. There are so many things in this country that begin with a credit score at the start of a transaction, like renting an apartment and getting a mobile phone.
There’s an element of surprise after a long journey to get here that presents a huge barrier. We’re really excited to help people solve this with a seamless digital application experience that hopefully takes away all the friction around this process, so people can do what they came here to do — arrive and thrive in this country.
In terms of translating people’s credit history into something American Express can use in our underwriting processes, that’s a highly fragmented problem as it relates point to point with the market.
The partnership with Nova
For applicants coming from five markets — Australia, Canada, India, Mexico and the UK — we’ve created a seamless digital journey where they can securely share their credit history from their home market in our digital application. Nova can leverage that information to translate it into a US credit equivalent in order to enable us to continue on to complete the application process — and if they’re approved, to extend credit.
The experience for this segment that needs to bring in their credit history from their home market is entirely integrated into the digital journey. In just a few clicks, they can submit the application and be approved instantly if all the checks and process occurs smoothly.
We have been working on this for quite some time and have been beta testing for nearly a year. So, we’re excited by the volume and the quality of the experience we’ve delivered. To date, we’ve worked with Nova to translate thousands of credit reports from international markets as part of this experience.
Nova has a footprint with additional markets and while we can’t share specifics, we do plan to scale and continue to explore future opportunities for growth.