What would your reaction be if you wanted to get a loan and your bank asks to go through your Facebook profile? In China, this is already happening on a large scale, but it’s not banks that are doing the rating—it’s the country’s burgeoning fintech companies. And it’s not Facebook they are looking at—its social platform WeChat and shopping website Taobao.

Social credit scoring analyses data from non-traditional sources: social media, online shopping, payment apps, cell phone accounts, and more. This type of scoring is meant to fill a gap for people who want a loan but don’t have any way of proving they can repay one. In order to gauge whether you are creditworthy or not, the score can take into account a number of variables: who your friends are, what you buy, whether pay your bills on time or even how much time you spend reading the user agreement. It’s like FICO but decidedly more creepy.

“The data sources and the scoring algorithm are of course the two key components in scoring—they go hand in hand and both need to be strong for accurate credit assessment,” said Sahil Chugani, a recent Cheung Kong Business School graduate and former employee at Goldman Sachs’ Fintech and Asset-Backed Securities. Chugani is currently exploring how China’s online lenders, including Alibaba’s Ant Financial, are using social credit scoring.

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Masha Borak

Masha Borak is a technology reporter based in Beijing. Write to her at masha.borak [at] technode.com. Pitches with the word "disruptive" will be ignored. Read a good book - learn some more adjectives.