Borrowers are used to routine background checks that are needed before they are able to get alone. But now lenders are said to be looking at going one step further by asking applicants to take a personality test to see if they’re likely to pay money back on time.
Such tests are already under trial with a major High Street bank already close to signing the deal, according to MoneyMail.
They could be of particular help to young borrowers such as student or applicants with little credit history.
How would it work? On top of the usual credit check, banks might ask you a series of questions testing applicants’ sense of integrity, honesty and their general beliefs about society.
Applicants would be asked how much they agree with statements like ‘I believe others try to do the right thing’, ‘I pay attention to small details’ or ‘ I find it hard to make change’. Lenders could then score each answer and feed it into software that would predict how likely the person is to miss payment. It would then be up to them to decide whether the borrower is trustworthy or not.
“Psychometric test results would, of course, be used in addition to existing data. But the test results would be particularly useful when it comes to lending to customers who have never borrowed before and don’t have a credit history that proves to banks that they are a good risk,” said Jonathan Crook a professor of business economics.
These sorts of “psychological” tools are already used within situations like job interviews. More and more employers are likely to assess a candidate weaknesses and his ability to fit into a team through personality questions.
But a consumer group, Fairer Finance, has warned that such tests could be manipulated. “If banks think they can psychologically screen bad debt risks, they are deluding themselves. Individuals are complex and it’s impossible to predict how someone will act in five years based on a ten-minute test today,” said James Daley of Fairer Finance.