Update to leading consumer credit score in the market can improve credit availability and understanding

FICO, a global analytics leader, has announced the release of FICO® Score 6 with longstanding partner TransUnion Africa. FICO® Score 6 is designed to be one of the most powerful and predictive scores yet in the South African market and is available through TransUnion. Previous versions—known as the Empirica Score, which has been in South Africa for the past 25 years—have guided more than 3.5 billion credit decisions to date.

FICO® Score 6 improves the assessment of a borrower’s credit risk over previous versions by providing a strengthened predictor of a consumer’s likelihood to default on payments, and expands on the modelling approach with additional features and insights.

The score was developed using the latest TransUnion data, making it ideal for South Africa’s large and dynamic population. It presents a familiar range of 300–850, with higher scores indicating lower credit risk. Based on the score, lenders can make better informed decisions on borrowers across customer segments, credit products, and lifecycle phases from account origination to account management. FICO® Scores are trusted by lenders worldwide to balance credit risk, portfolio growth and consumer experience.

The FICO® Score 6 score has been proven to be as much as 24 percent more predictive than previous versions when compared at the ‘all industries’ level, with further improvements seen in specific industries. By updating to this score, lenders can build healthier portfolios based on the latest consumer credit data and trends. In addition, FICO® Score 6 supports lenders’ efforts to lend to more consumers who were previously unscoreable. Research shows that, powered by TransUnion data, FICO® Score 6 can score a greater proportion of the South African adult population using its Expansion Risk Indicator (ERI).

FICO and TransUnion have been working together for more than two decades to empower credit grantors in South Africa and key neighbouring countries with credit risk scores that realise greater performance precision while supporting a consistent customer experience. FICO and TransUnion have capitalised on the synergies from the former’s deep experience in credit risk analytics and the latter’s significant credit bureau analytics capabilities. The relationship between the two firms continues to produce valuable solutions for the South African market.

Expanding Credit Access

Lee Naik, CEO of TransUnion Africa“TransUnion’s recently released Financial Inclusion study showed that more than 20 million South African consumers were credit unserved and a further 7 million underserved, i.e. credit active but with limited participation, at the end of March 2022,” said Lee Naik, CEO of TransUnion Africa.

“Our data shows that only 16 percent of these underserved consumers migrate to being credit served every two years, despite our analysis showing that these consumers perform as well, if not better, than the credit served consumer community. With improved predictability and granularity, FICO® 6 can play a significant role in bringing these low participation consumers into the formal economy. Furthermore, the FICO® Score 6 can help lenders offer consumers the opportunity to get the financing they need to overcome any pandemic-related setbacks, or even enter the economic mainstream for the first time.”

FICO® Score 6 achieves this through an Expansion Risk Indicator (ERI) that scores people who do not have enough credit history to calculate a standard FICO® Score, thus boosting financial inclusion. The ERI captures additional insights from expanded/alternative TransUnion data, and provides eight indices to differentiate credit risk, enabling lenders to make more informed decisions for consumers. For currently credit invisible people, the new ERI model will allow lenders to score twice as many applicants as the model it replaces. This enhanced ERI is only available in FICO® Score 6 and it is calculated only when a standard FICO® Score cannot be determined during the credit application process, empowering lenders to make more effective choices for consumers with thin credit files or no credit history.

“Together, FICO and TransUnion are committed to providing solutions designed to enable financial inclusion and create opportunity for consumers who previously would not have access to credit they may deserve, due to a lack of established credit history,” said Naik.

Explainable Credit Decisions

Reason codes and narratives have been a standard feature in Empirica, giving insight into why a consumer did not receive the maximum score. FICO® Score 6 maintains the previous reason codes but enhances the insights to lenders with four additional reason codes. Positive reason codes are only available in FICO® Score 6.

Michelle Beetar, vice president, Africa and the Middle East at FICO“The FICO® Score 6 is a game changer for credit understanding,” says Michelle Beetar, vice president, Africa and the Middle East at FICO. “By adding positive reason codes, we can give lenders more insight into how a borrower is managing credit, and this may be used to personalize engagement, sales, and credit education.

“We developed and tested the FICO® Score 6 to ensure robust performance in both normal economic circumstances and during a period of evolving economic challenge, such as the COVID-19 pandemic. In this way, the score is better equipped to respond to changes in market conditions.”

FICO® Score 6, based on TransUnion (South Africa) data, is available at TransUnion for South Africa, Namibia, Botswana, and Eswatini. More information about how organizations can benefit from FICO® Score 6 can be found at: FICO® Score 6 | TransUnion South Africa

About TransUnion (South Africa)

TransUnion is a leading global information and insights company that makes trust possible in the modern economy. We do this by providing an actionable picture of each person so they can be reliably represented in the marketplace. As a result, businesses and consumers can transact with confidence and achieve great things. We call this Information for GoodSM. TransUnion provides solutions that help create economic opportunity, great experiences and personal empowerment for hundreds of millions of people in more than 30 countries. Recognized as a leader in the African credit, risk and fraud markets, TransUnion provides consumer reports, risk scores, analytical services and decisioning capabilities to businesses across the continent. TransUnion is the only company in Africa’s IT industry that manages multiple complex databases containing insurance, cellular, consumer, commercial and auto data assets. In addition, we manage leading African databases in property and deeds, qualifications and telecommunications. Learn more at

About FICO

FICO (NYSE: FICO) powers decisions that help people and businesses around the world prosper. Founded in 1956, the company is a pioneer in the use of predictive analytics and data science to improve operational decisions. FICO holds more than 200 US and foreign patents on technologies that increase profitability, customer satisfaction and growth for businesses in financial services, telecommunications, health care, retail and many other industries. Using FICO solutions, businesses in more than 120 countries do everything from protecting 2.6 billion payment cards from fraud, to helping people get credit, to ensuring that millions of airplanes and rental cars are in the right place at the right time. Learn more at https://www.fico.com.

FICO is a registered trademark of Fair Isaac Corporation in the United States and in other countries.

Source: FICO Press Release