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Providing Financial Inclusion with Data Science

In this episode of DataFramed, we speak with Vishnu V Ram, VP of Data Science and Engineering at Credit Karma about how data science is being leveraged to increase financial inclusion.

Nov 2021
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Key Takeaways


Data science is a way to provide certainty: Credit Karma's recommendation engine is at the heart of its business models. With the use of data science, Credit Karma is able to increase financial inclusion by providing members a financial roadmap that takes them from where they are, to where they want to be.


Empathy is foundational to delivering data products that scale: Empathizing with members and the different backgrounds, credit scores, and their socio-economic status, was the key to scale to more than 100M+ members.


As you scale a data team, hire more specialists: As your data team matures, consider having a blend of generalist and specialist data scientists on your team. Moreover, provide upskilling pathways for your data scientists to specialize in one area of your tech stack.

Key Quotes

Let's say you open up Google Maps and you are trying to get somewhere. The first thing you’ll do is provide a starting point, and a target destination to go to. The certainty of Google Maps leaves no room for confusion. For many Credit Karma members, the starting point is where they stand with respect to their credit history, credit report, and credit score. That's just such a powerful data point when you put it in front of an individual because you are no longer at the mercy of credit providers. You have a good sense of what you're allowed to do at that point in time, and with data science, we’re able to provide them with a roadmap to reach their destination.

It's really important to stay humble and curious and to understand how users experience the data products you develop. If your recommendation engine sends out an occasional bad recommendation, you might think that "Oh, of course, I'm doing this for 100 million users, you can expect me to get a few users here and there wrong." But if you lead with empathy with the user, you’ll be able to eliminate a lot of these wrong recommendations.

About Vishnu V Ram

Photo of Vishnu V Ram
Vishnu V Ram

Vishnu V Ram is the VP of Data Science and Engineering at Credit Karma. Vishnu has been with Credit Karma for nearly seven years and led the development of the company’s deep learning-based systems and its internally built machine learning platform that helps Credit Karma transform and manage data at scale. 

Photo of Adel Nehme
Adel Nehme

Adel is a Data Science educator, speaker, and Evangelist at DataCamp where he has released various courses and live training on data analysis, machine learning, and data engineering. He is passionate about spreading data skills and data literacy throughout organizations and the intersection of technology and society. He has an MSc in Data Science and Business Analytics. In his free time, you can find him hanging out with his cat Louis.


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