Credit Karma has gained more than 75 million users in the US for its credit report services and personal finance ecosystem — now it is looking to the UK
Credit Karma has made a name for itself in the US by providing free credit report services to customers, alongside a range of tools for improving personal finance habits.
Now approaching 13 years since it was co-founded by Kenneth Lin, Ryan Graciano and Nichole Mustard, the company is seeking to transfer the success which has earned it more than 75 million American customers to a UK audience.
This began with the acquisition of Noddle earlier this year – a Leeds-based credit reporting service previously owned by “big-three” credit bureau TransUnion.
Now it has set its sights on expanding in the UK market by providing personalised and educational credit reporting services, which use technology to bring credit seekers and credit providers together in a way that’s beneficial to both parties.
Speaking last week at the LendIt Europe fintech conference in London, co-founder Mustard shed some light on the decision to tackle the UK market, and how Credit Karma is aiming to develop a relationship of trust with the the country’s consumers.
Nichole Mustard on bringing Credit Karma’s credit report services to the UK
“In the US we started with free credit scores but over the past 13 years it’s been built up around managing financial progress, and we’ve built out the service suite to cover every element of your financial needs.
“In the UK we want to bring that same type of technology and simplification – whether it’s for an ISA or a mortgage renewal.
“A lot of the market here is in the same place the US was in 2007 – I’m finding it’s very similar to my experience in the US in the early days.
“I’m still a founder and an entrepreneur at heart, and that’s where my passion lies – so as we looked at the opportunities to grow the business it was a natural fit for me to say ‘I’m going to go and build Credit Karma 2.0 and solve the consumer problems in a new market’.
“One with different problems and different regulations, different partners and different products.
“We looked at several markets and we knew we had to have a sizeable population of customers who are looking to make smart decisions, who are utilising formal financial markets and who exist in the digital environment.
“The UK was absolutely our next best step. We are here to be a leader.”
And on acquiring Noddle…
Mustard explained: “We bought Noddle because we believe scale matters. If you think about the data we have on consumers and putting that into our models to be smarter about what’s right for them – it’s really hard to do when you only have 10 or 100 thousand.
“But when you get into the millions then you have enough data to drive intelligence – to take machine learning and AI, and put them to task.
“We knew that getting here and getting the scale was really important, and we found a great platform and a great team to bring into the Credit Karma family.”
How Credit Karma will compete with comparison sites through personalisation
“If you think about Volvo, Audi, Mercedes or BMW – and then you think about Tesla.
“Tesla was small, but ultimately competed on the issue of ‘what do customers want, and how do you make that experience better and smarter?’
“And it’s the technology platforms that are going to be able to do that, versus the manufacturing partners.
“Price comparison sites will have a list – and you can definitely do you’re shopping there – but they don’t have a relationship with the consumer.
“There’s no-one proactively managing, monitoring and alerting you to smart financial decisions.
“We want to be a trusted partner, and to bring that information to customers – letting them know when there are good things for them to do that are right for the long term.
“It’s about taking the lists and being able to curate them in a way that’s relevant and valuable for the consumer.
“In the UK I think what’s really going to work is relevance and personalisation.
“If we all have the same credit score, it doesn’t mean we should all see the same list of credit card offers – I might want to go on holiday, someone else might want to balance transfers, or consolidate their debt.
“What’s very powerful is that when you have enough data you can take all those offers and sort them in very different ways.”