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How data access enables cash flow underwriting: the role of Open Banking
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How data access enables cash flow underwriting: the role of Open Banking

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Discover how digital tools are revolutionizing financial stability and growth for both SMEs and lenders...

Digitalization brings a wealth of benefits to SMEs, from boosting efficiency and productivity to enhancing customer satisfaction and opening doors to global markets. It also makes businesses more competitive. But the advantages of digitalization extend beyond SMEs to lenders, who gain instant access to data for informed decision-making, streamlined processes, reduced operational costs, improved risk management, and the ability to offer personalized services.

In this article, we'll explore how digital data access empowers cash flow underwriting, one of the most efficient loan origination methods available. We'll also dive into the critical role Open Banking plays in making this possible.

The emergence of cash flow underwriting

Cash flow underwriting is rapidly gained popularity as an innovative method for assessing creditworthiness. By analyzing bank transactions, lenders can gain a more detailed and timely picture of a borrower's financial health. This approach is being integrated by both business and consumer lenders into their underwriting processes, providing a modern alternative to traditional methods.

Integrating bank transaction analysis

Lenders are now incorporating bank transaction analysis into their credit risk models, often alongside traditional financial statements. This integration offers a granular level of detail and real-time availability, enabling a more comprehensive assessment of borrower’s liquidity position. By leveraging the rich data from bank statements or open banking, lenders can better understand a borrower’s cash flow patterns, spending behaviors, and financial health.

Benefits of cash flow underwriting

One of the main benefits of cash flow underwriting is increased lending reach, as access to banking transactions data allows for targeting borrowers without relying on the availability of financial statements.

Automating the cleaning, enriching, and categorizing of bank data expedites underwriting, enabling rapid lending decisions and reducing manual review time, benefiting both borrowers and lenders.

Analyzing categorized bank transactions reveals risky behaviors and transactions, providing deeper insights into a borrower's financial habits and potential red flags beyond standard financial KPIs.

At Silvr, we leverage bank transactions for our credit underwriting. Learn more about it in our article “Cash flow underwriting: Insights from bank transactions”.

Enhancing cash flow underwriting with Open Banking

Open Banking significantly enhances cash flow underwriting by providing real-time access to accurate financial data. This continuous data stream allows lenders to assess a borrower’s financial health more precisely, ensuring that credit decisions are based on up-to-date income and expense information. As a result, lenders can detect potential cash flow issues early, and mitigate risks effectively. This transparency and efficiency ultimately lead to better-informed underwriting decisions and a more accessible lending environment.

How does Open Banking work?

Open Banking leverages APIs (Application Programming Interfaces) to facilitate the secure and standardized exchange of financial data between banks and third-party providers (TPPs). Here’s a breakdown of the technical mechanisms that make Open Banking possible.

The Open Banking process

1. APIs and data access

APIs act as digital bridges, enabling different software systems to communicate with each other. In Open Banking, these APIs are designed to allow TPPs to access specific customer data from banks, such as account details and transaction histories, with the customer’s explicit consent.

2. Customer consent and authentication

Before any data is shared, customers must provide their explicit consent. This process typically involves strong customer authentication (SCA), which includes multi-factor authentication methods like passwords, biometric data (such as fingerprints or facial recognition), and SMS codes. This ensures that only authorized parties gain access to sensitive financial information.

3. Data standardization

To facilitate seamless data exchange, Open Banking relies on standardized data formats and protocols. This standardization ensures that data transmitted via APIs is consistent and can be easily interpreted by different systems, regardless of the bank or TPP involved. Common standards include the Berlin Group standards in the EU and the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE) standards in the UK.

4. Secure data transmission

Security is paramount in Open Banking. Data is transmitted through secure channels using encryption protocols like TLS (Transport Layer Security). This ensures that data remains confidential and is protected from unauthorized access during transmission.

5. Real-time data processing

One of the key advantages of Open Banking is the ability to process data in real-time. This means that TPPs can access up-to-date financial information, allowing for more accurate and timely financial services, such as instant loan approvals and real-time financial management tools.

6. Regulatory compliance

Open Banking operates under strict regulatory frameworks designed to protect consumers and ensure data security. Regulations such as the PSD2 (Revised Payment Services Directive) in Europe mandate that banks provide API access to TPPs while adhering to stringent security and privacy standards.

The impact of Open Banking

Better customer experience

Open Banking's secure data sharing, with a fast, secure, and fully digital process, streamlines underwriting and enhances customer experiences. As lenders gain access to categorized financial data, the underwriting process becomes more efficient. This not only benefits lenders but also provides consumers and businesses with quicker and more tailored financial services.

Security and efficiency

Consumers and companies are increasingly opting for Open Banking due to its robust security measures and the efficiency it brings to share financial information. Real-time banking data facilitates instant income verification, expediting the borrower onboarding process in consumer or company lending. This immediate access to financial data helps lenders make quicker and more accurate lending decisions, improving the overall lending experience.

Better risk management

The continuous monitoring of businesses’ financial health enabled by Open Banking significantly enhances risk management capabilities. Lenders can identify signs of repayment difficulties early on for example. This real-time insight also aids in detecting fraudulent activities and mitigating associated risks. Open Banking allows a more accurate financial analysis, helping lenders address potential issues, ensuring a more secure risk management.

At Silvr, we've embraced Open Banking from the beginning, utilizing it to make more informed credit decisions and manage risk more effeciently. To learn more about our cash flow underwriting method, read our article “Cash flow based underwriting enhanced by Silvr ClassifAI”

Cost reduction

The automation of tasks such as credit assessments and risk management through Open Banking leads to significant operational cost savings for lenders. Automating these processes reduces the need for extensive manual reviews and minimizes errors, streamlining the entire lending operation and making it more cost-effective.

Conclusion

Cash flow underwriting is gaining popularity as an innovative approach to credit assessment, leveraging detailed bank transaction data alongside traditional data sources for a more accurate evaluation of creditworthiness. Open Banking is revolutionizing financial services by enabling secure data sharing, enhancing customer experiences, and streamlining lending processes.

As the financial landscape continues to evolve, at Silvr we remain committed to leverage the latest technologies to provide superior service and support the growth and stability of SMEs.

Disclaimer: Each financing is subject to Capital Line’s eligibility criteria.
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Gregory Tappero
Silvr Writer

CTO and cofounder