Young Indian woman looking at letter while using laptop

Collateral Data: Automated Decision-Making and the Future of Credit in India

Focus Areas: Social Services
Research Programs: People
Status: Active

This project aims to investigate the increasing use of automated decision-making systems in the provision of automated loans in India. These systems can use a potential borrower’s personal data (including call histories, location, contact lists) to create credit scores for people without formal credit histories. Hailed as a revolutionary step forward in financial inclusion on the one hand and decried as a dangerous invasion of privacy on the other, these new loan products have significant impacts.

Focusing on designers, regulators, and users of automated loans in India, the project asks how these products shape financial inclusion and socio-economic mobility at an everyday level. Through conducting interviews and collecting financial diaries the project aims to elucidate how these technologies are taken up and transform borrowers’ livelihoods and social networks.

Expected outcomes include detailed accounts of how automated financial services can exacerbate inequality even as they expand financial inclusion. Understanding these dynamics will be crucial not only for intervening in social inequality in India but also in regulating the adoption of similar practices of credit-scoring and loan distribution that are already starting to emerge in Australia. In providing a detailed picture of how ADM is changing the landscape of credit and economic inequality in a context where these tools have been widely adopted, the project seeks to provide critical foresight to regulators and industry actors in countries like Australia where data sharing, and alternative data are just beginning to be taken up in the financial sector.


ADM+S Chief Investigator Heather Horst

Prof Heather Horst

Lead Investigator,
Western Sydney University

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