TransUnion has launched a new USSD channel offering, making it easier for South Africans to access their credit score and information from any cellphone, even those that do not have mobile data or smartphone capabilities.
The TransUnion credit USSD service is believed to be the first of its kind in South Africa to give non-smartphone users access to credit information.
The product is vital in South Africa, where smartphone penetration is moderate and credit awareness is low. In 2016, Pew Research revealed that only 37% of South Africans use smartphones, with 52% relying instead on traditional mobile devices. In addition, the National Credit Regulator reported last year that less than three percent of South Africa’s 24,25-million credit-active people check their credit information at least once per year.
“Our goal is to help all South Africans understand and manage their credit so they can take control of their financial health,” says Garnet Jensen, senior director for TransUnion South Africa. “The new USSD offering makes it quick and convenient for consumers to keep track of and manage their credit health, make informed financial decisions and better prepare for conversations with credit providers during their credit applications processes.”
Consumers can register for the new product quickly and easily by verifying basic consumer information, which is further secured through validation of the consumer’s cellphone number. Once registered, consumers will have access to their TransUnion Consumer Credit Score through a SMS short code number.
A registered consumer can also access their credit summary information such as the number of defaults, judgments, enquiries and late payments contained in their credit report. In addition, USSD users can see their debt profile with TransUnion, as well as how their credit score compares to national averages among consumers listed with TransUnion.
Should a consumer have a question regarding their score or summary data provided, they can access their full detailed credit report, remembering that they are entitled to one free credit report once every 12 months.
Lenders use credit reports and scores to assess a borrower’s riskiness and to inform the terms of a loan. Between October 2015 and September 2016, 1,7-billion credit profiles were queried with the credit bureaus, highlighting the value and importance placed on a consumer’s credit profile. Because of this, it is important that consumers take steps to build and maintain their credit profile by regularly monitoring their credit health and adopting good financial habits like paying debts on time.
“We want consumers to stop being afraid of how lenders might view them and take control of their finances,” says Jensen. “Our job is to help them get clued up on their credit report and score and make positive changes where they are needed.”
To access the USSD service, dial *120*8801#.