Visa Knows if Your Marriage is on the Ropes

By Josh D. Simon
Updated: July 18, 2014
divorce news

Global credit card giant Visa is fond of claiming that "more people go with Visa."

However, even the best and brightest minds behind the marketing campaign couldn't have imagined that one of the places Visa is going is family court, and they're using statistics to get there well ahead of their cardholders.

The strange observation comes in light of a Daily Beast report that found Visa and other credit card merchants are very interested in their cardholders' matrimonial state. Why? Because according to (secretly guarded) data mining techniques, couples going through divorce are a bigger risk for late payment or default. As such, credit card companies use this information to position themselves to reduce risk, perhaps by lowering card limits or increasing interest rates.   

That statistics can eerily predict whether spouses are headed for their anniversary or divorce court is part of a growing trend that is seeing more and more companies use data mining for business purposes.

For example, Canadian Tire's data crunching systems recently predicted with startling accuracy that people who purchased felt chair pads, premium birdseed, and carbon monoxide detectors would rarely miss a payment. On the other hand, the computer was equally adept at predicting that people who purchased inexpensive car oil and visited a specific lounge in Montreal, Canada would be a higher risk. 

Indeed, at one time, all of this may have seemed the strained plot of a pulp science fiction novel. Yet today, with advanced technology and the immense (and growing) availability of data, data and more data, it's not that far-fetched to envision a day when married couples swap data instead of rings at the ceremony, only to anxiously see whether a computer gives them a green light ("proceed to marriage") or red light ("divorce almost inevitable, go no further").

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