Something as basic as lending money to people in need is not so basic for China. Even though the Chinese economy is one of the most vibrant in the world, there was still no quick and easy way for thousands of people who needed money in a hurry to get it. In China, it’s not easy to safely lend money to people who don’t have credit cards or access to traditional credit scores.

“We had to find a way to gauge the credit worthiness of people who have never been served by banks,” said Dr. Gui Ming, Chief Data Officer, Shanghai PPDAI. “Before we came up with this platform, people who needed money in a hurry had to turn their friends or families, which wasn’t always possible.”

Enabling Everyone to Easily Borrow Money

Thanks to an internet finance platform developed by Shanghai PPDAI and powered by NetApp, that’s no longer an issue. By using the right algorithm, Shanghai PPDAI can accurately assess someone’s credit worthiness - even if people don’t have a credit card or traditional bank account. People who want to borrow money simply download an application that gives lenders access to their online and social media activity.

By analyzing this information, Shanghai PPDAI can easily determine the likelihood of whether the loan will be paid back. “We noticed that birds of a feather tend to flock together” explained Dr. Gui Ming. “People who pay back their loans seem to have similar social media patterns.”

If there’s a high likelihood that a loan will be paid back, the money is quickly deposited into an online account that can be accessed through the user’s smartphone. As a result, information from different sources that used to be inconsistent or incompatible can now be collected quickly and easily. One out of every 20 people in China have used this service.

Small loans have led to big changes in people’s lives.

A lot of people who borrow money from PPDAI use it for a small business. Others must pay for an unexpected medical emergency. Here are some other examples of why people borrow money.

“I took my dad who lived in mountains his whole live to see the sea,” said Mr. He.

“We bought a big screen smart phone for our parents, so now we can video-chat and “see” each other,” said Ms. Liu.

“I bought an engagement ring and proposed to the girl who is now my wife,” said Mr. Zhou.

The role of Artificial Intelligence in lending money

In many countries, especially those with developing economies, smartphones are plentiful, but credit scores are not. That’s why Shanghai PPDAI increasingly depends on Artificial Intelligence to help the company process an increasing amount of unstructured data as it expands to other countries.

“The ability to use machine learning AI is essential to our mission to serve the financially underserved,” Dr. Gui Min noted. “To us, data is like the ingredients and machine learning and AI is the ability to cook. So, you combine them together, you can cook a good meal.

With the power of data PPDAI has surpassed the limits of consumer lending in China. Their digital transformation allows them to serve the financially underserved and lend money to everyone in China. How will you change the world with data?

Learn more about thriving with digital transformation

Founded in June 2007, Shanghai PPDAI Financial Information Service Co., Ltd. is the first online credit lending platform authorized by the Chinese government. With nearly 60 million users, PPDAI provides a safe, simple, low-cost, convenient and beneficial alternative to both borrowers and investors. The company was listed on the New York Stock Exchange in November 2017.