IMF published a working paper that analyzes the financial stability implications of information technology (IT) adoption by lenders. The study estimates bank-level intensity of IT adoption before the global financial crisis using a novel dataset that provides information on hardware used in U.S. commercial bank branches after mapping them to their parent bank. The evidence presented in the paper suggests that the “fintech era” is likely to be beneficial to financial stability, as adoption of technology by lenders has resulted in better borrower selection.
The study finds that higher intensity of IT adoption led to significantly lower non-performing loans when the crisis hit: banks with a one standard deviation higher IT adoption experienced 10% lower non-performing loans. High-IT-adoption banks were not less exposed to the crisis through their geographical footprint, business model, funding sources, or other observable characteristics. However, loan-level analysis indicates that high-IT-adoption banks originated mortgages with better performance and did not offload low-quality loans. Loans originated by high-IT banks experienced lower delinquency rates during the crisis, even when they were securitized and sold to Freddie Mac. Therefore, the results indicate that IT adoption helped banks to select better borrowers and produce more resilient loans. Additionally, the study used the application of a simple text-analysis algorithm to the biographies of top executives and found that banks led by more “tech-oriented” managers adopted IT more intensively and experienced lower non-performing loans during the crisis. Thus, the results suggest that technology adoption in lending can enhance financial stability through the production of more resilient loans.
Related Link: Working Paper (PDF)
Keywords: International, Banking, Fintech, Credit Risk, NPLs, Financial Stability, IMF
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