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CastScore Is Becoming Ever More Human

We’ve said before that “nobody is average”. But it’s something worth repeating because it’s so fundamental to our vision for Castlight.

We are living in an environment where it’s easy to feel that many companies think they know us simply because they have some limited data on our life and our choices.

Market researchers and pollsters will put us into categories depending on our age, ethnicity, where we live and what we earn. Amazon will recommend what book we might want to read next, based on what we read last week. Sainsbury’s will send us money-off vouchers for food items they think we might want to buy again because we bought them before and Facebook will suggest new friends, because they are friends with other friends.

I’m not saying these aren’t helpful interventions. They are just limited, suggestions based simply on what, on average, people would do or want, given an average situation or choice.

Categorisation As A Tool

At Castlight Financial, we don’t do “average” and we don’t fit people into categories. In fact we have turned that entire concept on its head. We use categorisation as a tool for individuals to demonstrate their unique financial behaviours. Our categories are used to serve our customers, to demonstrate their differences.

Our CastScore, the world’s first affordability score, measures an individual’s affordability, their capacity to take on safe credit, by taking that individual’s transactional data and categorising it into over 180 categories of income and outgoings. And then it creates a unique 3D picture of their affordability.

The result of this? A CastScore affordability score which records the nuances of an individual’s financial behaviour and reflects the complexity of an individual’s life.

Nuanced Financial Behaviours

The categorisation engine which underpins CastScore is the most powerful engine of its kind in the UK. We are proud of this. But where we are going now, in 2019, is truly ground breaking. The Chinese may have made it to the dark side of the moon, but I am even more excited by what our team of data scientists are doing with our categorisation engine. CaaS, our engine, is constantly being trained by our data science team to “think” more like a human. They are creating an entire “interpretive” layer of technology over the number crunching and category sorting layer. That means, when it reviews an individual’s transactional data it records or “understands” way more than a set of credits and debits. It interprets the transactions and recognises nuanced financial behaviours. It understands the stories of people’s unique financial lives.

CastScore for instance, understands Black Friday. It understands Christmas. It understands that a baby has been born or a student has set up in a new flat. The interpretative technology recognises that these are blips of event-specific spending. It understands why the account has wobbled and it sees it steady again. It understands context and factors it in to its affordability scoring.

Growing Ever More Human

It’s a tough old world out there for many people and I’m thrilled that CastScore’s ability to “understand” provides what I like to call “redemptive” technology. That is, affordability technology that allows for mistakes to be made and then corrected, forgiven.

And CastScore’s interpretive function is not only helping individuals who experience blips in their spending patterns. It’s also enfranchising customers with thin credit files, by allowing them to demonstrate their unique stories and understanding their financial journeys.

I’ll come back to CastScore, there’s so much more to tell. But for now, I’m so delighted that CastScore is growing ever more human, all the more equipped to see us in all our glorious individuality and difference.

A French Lesson

We’re used to technology advancing at an exciting pace. After all, at Castlight we are responsible for disrupting the status quo of the way people bank, obtain mortgages, secure loans, make investments and climb out of debt. Our data scientists are pushing boundaries every day and creating products and services that have never existed before. That means we are constantly having to name things – the Affordability Passport, CastScore and CaaS are just a few of the product names we’ve recently had to brainstorm around a table.

But it’s not just brand-new product names that are evolving. In the last few decades, thousands of new words have entered our lexicon that weren’t needed before such as fintech itself, which amazingly only made it into American on-line dictionary Merriam-Webster in September this year!

Les Données

And of course, the language of technology is not only evolving in English, it’s evolving in languages around the globe. Sometimes we share or borrow the new words across languages – the French, for instance, will send “un tweet” or post something on “le Facebook”. But sometimes, a translation will stop you in your tracks and make you think about what a word really means.

One of my favourite words is the French for “data”. And it’s not “le data”. It’s “les données”, which comes from the French verb “donner” meaning “to give”. Data, to the French, is something that is given, it’s a gift.

I’ve blogged in the past about data being the new oil and so have other people in the fintech community, but I don’t think I’ve ever heard it called “a gift”.

I think the French are spot on to coin a word for data, wrapped in the linguistic sense of it being something valuable, something that is given, a gift.

Gift of Financial Security

It made me think of our Affordability Passport and CastScore too, both of which are of course, all about data. These products use open banking technology to access a customer’s bank accounts, analyse and categorise their income and expenditure and provide the customer with an Affordability Passport or CastScore which can then be used to open doors to safe loans.

Intrinsic to this process is that fact that the customer’s data is valuable. It’s theirs to give to someone they trust. And I believe that when they give it to us, we are able to give something back to them which is even more valuable.

Le CastScore and L’Affordability Passport peut-être?

Or in plain English – the gift of financial security.

Data Is The New Oil

Data is the new oil. It’s the currency of the future. And it was good to see, at this year’s Data Talent Scotland event, that hundreds of Scotland’s students have recognised the importance of data in virtually every area of business life, and have spent the last few years studying data science, analytics and engineering. Read more

Are Tech Giants like Amazon a Real Threat to Traditional Banking?

At a Future of Fintech conference in New York this summer, Anand Sanwal, CEO of CB Insights said that the idea of a “Bank of Amazon” was top of the list of 10 trends to watch in financial services over the next year. Read more

Currency – But Not As We Know It

The amount of money we have in the bank determines what we can spend. It’s obvious isn’t it? Or is it? What if we are moving towards a future where the currency isn’t pounds and pence but data?