Personal Communication in a Fintech World: Evidence from Loan Payments
56 Pages Posted: 16 Apr 2018 Last revised: 7 Oct 2018
Date Written: March 1, 2018
We examine the effect of personal, two-way communication on the behavior of borrowers, who have fallen behind on their consumer loan payments. While the lender has informed all borrowers about the delinquency through an automatically generated letter, some borrowers also receive a phone call from a randomly assigned bank agent. We find that borrowers, who speak with a bank agent typically for only a few minutes, are significantly more likely to make timely payments and significantly less likely to default. This finding holds in a subset of hard-to-reach borrowers as well as when we instrument for the call with exogenous variation in borrowers’ reachability. The effect of the call is also persistent. Borrowers, who receive a call, are significantly less likely to become delinquent again. Personal aspects of the call, such as the likeability of the agent’s voice, significantly affect payment behavior, while the surprise element of the call does not. Our results suggest that the form of communication significantly affects borrowers’ payment behavior.
Keywords: consumer finance, communication, promise keeping, reminders
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