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”).