American Express is partnering with credit reporting startup Nova to offer newcomers to the US the ability to bring credit histories with them.
The Amex-Nova partnership accepts credit data from Australia, Canada, India, Mexico, and the UK.
"You've built up a lot of credit in your home country, but when you come to the US, for example, none of that credit data transfers," said Sarah Davies, SVP of new member acquisition at American Express.
Through Amex's online credit card application, an applicant with credit history in one of the five integrated markets can use Nova's platform to retrieve data and share it with Amex for a credit decision.
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For newcomers to the US, one of the biggest challenges to getting settled in can be access to credit. Credit history doesn't follow you across borders, so getting a credit card or a loan — an essential first step to building credit in the first place — can be challenging.
American Express is hoping that a new partnership on cross-border data will help it be able to immediately sign up credit card customers even if they don't have a US track record.
"It's a highly fragmented problem across the globe, and one that we were excited to tackle through our partnership with Nova," Sara Milsten, SVP of new member acquisition at American Express told Business Insider.
US-based Nova Credit is a cross-border credit reporting startup that offers what it calls a Credit Passport. It integrates with credit bureaus globally, collects credit data, and repackages it for US creditors. The Amex-Nova partnership currently accepts data from Australia, Canada, India, Mexico, and the UK.
Amex is the first credit card issuer to partner with Nova for US card memberships.
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"You've built up a lot of credit in your home country, but when you come to the US, for example, none of that credit data transfers," said Sarah Davies, Head of Risk & Analytics at Nova Credit. "You are essentially invisible within the US credit data system."
Through the Amex credit card application online, an applicant with credit history in one of the five integrated markets can use Nova's platform to retrieve their data and share it with Amex for a credit decision. Many applicants, once approved, will have immediate access to credit via a digital wallet, prior to their card arriving in the mail.
On arrival in the US, essential first steps, like getting a cell phone or finding a place to live, require credit. There are limited options to build credit, such as secured credit which requires cash deposit.
"There's that moment where you've arrived, you've got no data, and nobody can find you in the credit bureau system, so you only have the capacity to access high priced products, or no product whatsoever," said Davies.
Sharing credit information cross-border isn't simple. Nova needs to navigate regulatory requirements, ensure access to data, and then transmit that data securely before ultimately translating it and packaging it for a US creditor.
Nova Credit isn't the only fintech focused on the immigrant segment in the US. In October, Majority Bank, a bank for newcomers to the US, launched in Houston. Majority provides banking services, international calling, and native language advisors.
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