It should come as no surprise to learn that Prasanna Dhore has all the metrics around all the data being collected at Fiserv. After all, he is the chief data officer and the president of the Data Commerce Solutions Group of the global fintech giant.
So, when Dhore said Fiserv has access to data involving more than 100 million households in the U.S. — and more than 10 million companies — it makes sense.
Fiserv, after all, is an industry-leading fintech company, one that provides services to clients across the financial services sector — including banks; credit unions; securities brokers; mortgage, insurance, leasing and finance companies; and, of course, retailers.
“No one has as much data as we do,” Dhore said.
It’s why the company — which recently moved into a 450,000-square-foot, state-of-the-art innovation center in Berkeley Heights — is a fast-riser on the Fortune 500 list.
It’s what the company intends to do with all that data that may surprise you.
“We want to use data for good,” he said.
Dhore wants to use data to help one person at a time.
Dhore is one of the top data scientists in the world. Leading roles at Time Warner, BNY Mellon, Hewlett-Packard and Equifax make that clear.
But, he wasn’t always that way.
In fact, when Dhore came to the U.S. in 1984 from Bangalore, India, he was more than just a college student — he was one of the millions in this country and around the world who are “credit-invisible.”
Dhore said he couldn’t get a credit card for six years. And that he couldn’t get a mortgage for four more. He had no credit history — and few ways to build one.
“Credit is so important for anyone starting out in life,” he said. “The experience I went through when I came to this country had a huge impact on me.”
It came with a realization, too.
“It wasn’t because banks didn’t care about me, they just didn’t have the data on me,” he said.
His job. His ability to pay his rent. Even his ability to pay for his phone — a landline at the time, Dhore joked.
“They didn’t have access to this data,” he said. “All they had was access to credit data. I didn’t have a credit score. I was invisible to them.”
Dhore has spent a career worrying about the credit-invisible. (And, because you know he has the data, he’ll tell you that 25 million people in this country are in that group. The numbers are worse around the globe.)
He started with small initiatives. At Time Warner, he used data to limit the amount of direct mail the company was sending out to earn subscribers. Good for the forest, good for the environment, he said.
As technology helped create the fintech sector over the years, Dhore began searching for more ways to use data for good. It led him to Fiserv.
All of the transactions that Fiserv touches can help build a credit history. It can help reduce the credit-invisible population. No more waiting six years just to get a credit card — and that’s just a start.
Data can help in so many areas, Dhore said. A credit score — one built on an accurate credit history — not only can help you get a mortgage, but one at a better rate. The same goes for insurance, loans and other financial products.
“Accurate data is crucial for these markets to function well,” he said. “When the information people get is incomplete or wrong, that has great impact on people’s lives.”
And it’s more than a one-time event. The faster you develop credit, the greater your ability will be to create generational wealth, Dhore said.
“That’s how we use data for good,” he said.
Don’t be confused. The leaders at Fiserv are compassionate, but they also are also practical, Dhore will say.
The data they are collecting is helping the company launch a new data business, known as Data Commerce Solutions, at a recent event.
Dhore said he didn’t want to reveal intimate details of how the company will use all the data, but he said it will be helpful on a number of fronts — everything from building credit to stopping fraud.
Dhore said the unit can be a multimillion-dollar business within five years — numbers that he feels will quickly escalate from there. All because of the data.
“We have insight into the cash flow of every entity that we do business with,” he said. “It’s what we call the Fiserv data edge. No one else has this data.”
Dhore is quick to point out that Fiserv gets permission to obtain the data, too, by explaining it will be used to help consumers. Fiserv does not participate in what he calls “surveillance capitalism,” where companies take information without the user knowing.
“That is something that I just do not agree with,” he said. “There’s a very fine line between being compassionate and being creepy.”
Fiserv, Dhore said, wants to use data for good — to help eliminate the credit-invisible.
“It is direct, straightforward and purposeful,” he said. “We not only are going to create wealth for Fiserv employees and shareholders; we’re going to help millions and millions of people in the process.
“What better combination could you have?”