The Use of Cash-Flow Data in Underwriting Credit: Empirical Research Findings

Empirical Research Findings

Report Summary

The Empirical Research Findings report provides a detailed summary of our applied research based on data from six non-bank financial services providers – Accion, Brigit, Kabbage, LendUp, Oportun, and Petal – that have begun using cash-flow variables and scores in an effort to increase the provision of credit to consumers and small businesses who may have difficulty obtaining loans from traditional sources.

FinRegLab retained Charles River Associates to help us design and conduct an independent analysis of the predictiveness of the participants’ cash-flow variables and scores based on actual loan performance. We also compared the predictiveness of the cash-flow metrics to traditional scores and variables, as well as to combined models using both types of information.

Where data permitted, we also analyzed the extent to which the research participants are providing credit to traditionally underserved populations and whether the use of the cash-flow variables and scores introduces fair lending risk in credit eligibility determinations.


FinRegLab was established with generous support from Flourish. Flourish also supported FinRegLab’s evaluation of cash-flow data in consumer and small business credit underwriting and this summary report, The Use of Cash-Flow Data in Underwriting Credit: Empirical Research Findings.

Flourish Ventures

Flourish, a venture of the Omidyar Group, has provided operating support to FinRegLab since its inception. Flourish is an evergreen fund investing in entrepreneurs whose innovations help people achieve financial health and prosperity. Established in 2019, Flourish is funded by Pam and Pierre Omidyar. Pierre is the founder of eBay. Managed by a global team, Flourish makes impact-oriented investments in challenger banks, personal finance, insurtech, regtech, and other technologies that empower people and foster a fairer, more inclusive economy.

For more information visit or join our community through Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, and Medium.

Additional support for this report was provided by the Milken Institute, which enabled FinRegLab to evaluate cash-flow data in small business credit underwriting.

Milken Institute

The Milken Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan think tank that helps people build meaningful lives, in which they can experience health and well-being, pursue effective education and gainful employment, and access the resources required to create ever-expanding opportunities for themselves and their broader communities.

We are particularly grateful to Marsha Courchane and Arthur Baines, Charles River Associates, for their counsel in developing the research design, data analysis, and reporting of the research results. We are also grateful to Thomas P. Brown, Paul Hastings, for legal assistance throughout the course of the research process.

Arthur Baines

Vice President

Dr. Marsha Courchane

Vice President, Practice Leader of Financial Economics
Charles River Associates

We would also like to acknowledge the FinRegLab team who worked on the research and the report(s). They include:

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About FinregLab

FinRegLab is an independent, nonprofit organization that conducts research and experiments with new technologies and data to drive the financial sector toward a responsible and inclusive marketplace. The organization also facilitates discourse across the financial ecosystem to inform public policy and market practices. To receive periodic updates on the latest research, subscribe to FRL’s newsletter and visit Follow FinRegLab on LinkedIn and Twitter (X). | 1701 K Street Northwest, Suite 1150, Washington, DC 20006