Alternative Credit Assessment Workstream

Project REACh: Removing Barriers to Financial Inclusion


Approximately 11 percent of Americans are deemed credit invisible, making it difficult to get access to affordable credit and to build wealth. Project REACh works to remove structural barriers to financial inclusion to help millions previously left out of the system achieve the American dream.
— Acting Comptroller of the Currency Michael J. Hsu

Nearly 50 million Americans—disproportionately including poor and minority Americans—are credit invisible, because they do not have a credit file with the credit reporting agencies and lack a credit score, and cannot obtain mortgages, credit cards, or other lending products. Many people in this segment of society, however, consistently pay rent, utilities, and other recurring financial obligations, which demonstrates financial responsibility and reliability.

What We Do

The Project REACh Alternative Credit Assessment Workstream promotes partnerships to facilitate entry into mainstream financial services for credit invisibles and economically disadvantaged individuals, communities, and small businesses. The Project REACh Alternative Credit Assessment Workstream is actively working to improve financial access, credit availability, and consumer financial literacy for underserved borrowers and communities by:

  • Researching, exploring, and developing alternative data sources that offer information directly related to consumers’ finances and how consumers manage their financial commitments, which could enable the industry to develop alternative credit assessment methods that expand access to mainstream credit.
  • Exploring opportunities that could enable participating financial institutions to offer responsible credit to underserved borrowers, while accommodating the size, complexity, and capabilities of financial institutions and needs of borrowers.

What We’ve Done

The Alternative Credit Assessment Workstream has taken steps to tear down the barriers to economic access for underserved populations by:

  • Convening financial institutions, technology firms and community organizations to explore, develop, and analyze credit assessment methods that can consistently predict a borrower’s ability to repay.
  • Collaborating on an alternative credit assessment method that integrates traditional credit bureau data and existing permissioned deposit account data shared across participating financial institutions to extend credit to people who have previously lacked access to mainstream credit.

Where We’re Going

The Project REACh Alternative Credit Assessment Workstream aims to expand its work by:

  • Launching an alternative credit assessment method with numerous financial institutions that integrates traditional credit bureau data and existing permissioned deposit account data across participating institutions to improve financial access for credit invisible individuals.
  • Expanding alternative credit assessments with traditional bureau and permissioned deposit account data to incorporate other permissioned alternative data that has an understandable relationship to creditworthiness and can be obtained from other information sources. These alternative credit assessment methods can provide loan applicants a second chance for credit approval by analyzing borrower qualifications based on an effective blend of traditional and alternative data sets.
  • Exploring additional alternative credit assessment methods that provide efficient methods for individuals that may not have a deposit account and for smaller institutions to facilitate entry into mainstream financial services for credit invisibles and economically disadvantaged individuals, communities, and small businesses.
  • Collaborating in the analysis of data to inform broad adoption of alternative credit assessment methods by all financial institutions.
  • Identifying opportunities for collaborative relationships and initiatives with consumer advocacy and community groups to expand and enhance consumer financial literacy for underserved communities. Comprehensive and strategic financial literacy programs are vital to provide consumers with additional opportunities, particularly for those not yet in a position to qualify for the second chance granted by alternative credit assessment methods.