The family moved to Seattle a couple of weeks ago. We have a home with wonderful landlords, the kids are in school and daycare, and I’ll be starting a new job in the beginning of October. To top everything off, the weather has been absolutely fantastic and we got to travel quite a bit.
It wasn’t easy getting here, because Trust is still mostly centralized. In the US, your financial situation is synthesized into a single number decided by three private for-profit organizations. This number is of course the Credit Score. Coming from a different country means that this number simply doesn’t exist.
The score was designed to signal a person’s credit-worthiness. Even as such, it is quite broken. There are stories of very high net worth individuals who couldn’t get approved for a credit card. For the majority of the population, however, it does the job. For the outliers, it takes some time.
Unfortunately, the score isn’t used only for deciding whether to trust a person with a credit line. When I was here preparing everything before the family arrived, I had to keep explaining to property owners that I don’t have a credit score. One owner in particular refused to speak with me, even when I offered to prepay for the place. This is because the credit score is also used as a Trust Score.
To add insult to injury, the system is broken because there is no formal unified identification at the federal level. In its place, the Social Security number is used, and it was never designed for this. This means that even the existing system designed to quantify trustworthiness is built on shaky ground. This was exemplified with the latest Equifax hack.
Quantifying trust is an interesting challenge. In the private sector, insurance companies have the longest history trying to solve this problem. These companies have been very slow to use the abundance of information that exists today to improve their scoring function. The heavy regulation has made it very difficult for newer companies to try and disrupt the field, with the notable exception of newcomer Lemonade. It took very experienced and successful entrepreneurs to be able to raise enough capital to rise up to the challenge.
Historically, however, quantifying trust was mainly performed by the government, in the view that it is an impartial third party. That’s why getting into a taxi was supposed to be safer than hitchhiking – you knew that the regulator reviewed the driver and gave them a medallion. I believe that even with all the scare stories, the new entrants in the private sector are doing a better job. Using ongoing input from the actual users gives a score that is more accurate over time.
This is why I was very happy to learn of a new company trying to tackle this issue in the credit field. It’s a company that provides a credit card without a credit check, as well as increasing transparency in the field. This company is Petal. I am currently in the waiting list, I’ll keep you updated.
We tried to take advantage of the wonderful weather to travel as much as possible. There are many wonderful parks and trails in and around Seattle.
The people here have been absolutely fantastic, and everyone has gone out of their way to help us out. I cannot thank them enough – what a wonderful welcome.