Send a Text, Get a Car Loan? Now There’s an App for That

Buying car

Nobody wants to wait in line to get credit approved before buying a car or a truck. Shoppers are generally not so keen on having strangers stand near them as they finish their paperwork. And they don’t like sitting in some dealership back office, waiting for financing to be greenlit so they can sign off on a vehicle purchase. Those are the main issues that emerged in a survey by consumer credit-rating bureau Experian—which thinks it has the answer.

“All of those things, they’re going to go away with this new app,” said Alex Lintner, Experian’s president of consumer information services, as he introduced the company’s new Text for Credit feature in a Facebook Live video this week.

To illustrate how Text for Credit works, Lintner walked through a car dealership and approached a Ford Mustang, the year and trim of which were not distinguishable from the video. A sign on the car’s windshield said to text the word “credit” to the number 91000 on a smartphone, which Lintner did. The Text for Credit feature recognized him based on his phone number, and within seconds, he was sent a message with a link to follow. Shortly thereafter, he was given an offer for a loan on the car.

Experian, one of the three major U.S. credit bureaus along with TransUnion and Equifax, said this Text for Credit process is a natural extension of technological advancements that have already been made in consumer banking (depositing a check by snapping a picture on your smartphone, for example). Those advancements had heretofore left the credit-application process unchanged.

So, will consumers actually use Text for Credit? Experian thinks so. The firm’s survey found top consumer concerns with applying for credit or financing in a retail location include privacy (58 percent) and the length of time it takes to apply (42 percent). The survey, conducted over a week this summer, included 1031 people aged 18 and over.

Twelve percent of consumers told Experian they had walked away from a purchase because it took too long. Another 21 percent said they would consider buying a car in the next six months if they could shop for credit offers and apply for financing on a mobile device. Seventeen percent said they’d do likewise for clothing, and 15 percent said they’d use it to buy a large appliance.

Survey results aside, Experian now needs to get lenders and retailers on board. A company spokesman said it has “some auto companies piloting the program” but declined to say which. A more important factor, obviously, will be whether applying for big-purchase credit on mobile devices takes off with consumers.

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