For those wishing to keep close tabs on their credit score, credit reports, and credit monitoring alerts, Experian has released (in March) a Universal iOS app that's beautifully designed, very easy to use, full of features, and looks great.
This app is designed for current Experian customers. An account must already have been established online. But once you've signed up for Experian credit monitoring (US$21.95/month) and have your login credentials, you can access a subset of the online services with this Universal iOS app.
The app allows you to:
- Access your FICO credit score.
- See how the score has changed over time.
- See which activities have affected your score.
- Receive monitoring alerts (for example, a credit inquiry).
- Work with a simulator that shows the result of various financial activities.
- See the key elements that comprise your credit score
Top of the dashboard. (More below)
In the course of reviewing this free app, I spoke on the phone with Jeremy Wasser, Vice President of Product and User Experience at Experian Consumer Services. I did that because I wanted to learn more about the security of the app and how it might help customers improve and protect their credit rating. Mr. Wasser was exceptionally helpful and filled me in on the development of this app in an extended conversation.
Here's what I learned.
The app was designed in close consultation with current Experian customers to give them what they want. That explains why, as a result, the reviews from Experian customers have been very positive. The app makes it very easy to find and use the email feedback form and report issues.
The scope for the early versions was intended to be modest. Experian plans to update this app every two to four weeks. The early focus was to enage the customer, develop a working presentation and provide an immersive experience.
One currently cannot create an account within the app. That must be done via normal channels with a web browser and eCommerce so that payment information can be provided.
What the app doesn't currently do is lock down credit access (credit freeze). That feature may be added later, and for now, that service must still be managed online. Also, there is currently no way to dispute a credit report within this app. That's also something being looked at for the future.
The app uses standard HTTPS and SSL to protect the data in transit. After logging out of the app, no personally identifiable information (PII) remains on the iPhone. I had originally asked some tougher questions about app security, but Mr. Wasser explained that for the sake of product security, he didn't want to divulge much more. That could be a way of hiding deficiencies, but I didn't get that feeling in our 30 minute conversation.
While the credit information provide right now is only from Experian, there may come a time when the data is also tied into Equifax and Transunion.
Experian has its own in-house iOS development team using, of course, Macs and Xcode.
Using The App
I was provided a sample user account with login credentials. The sample account data was fully populated and not at all what I would call a minimal effort. Instead, it contained extensive financial data, all made-up of course, and looked like the data that a real person would accumulate. As a result, the review experience felt very authentic.
After logging in for the first time, one is taken through several pages of introduction that are clear and well done. One doesn't get the feeling of being overwhelmed by technical aspects. Instead, the feeling is one of helpfulness and ease of use.
Opening tutorial is excellent.
After the introduction, there is an easy to digest dashboard with the credit score and timeline at the top and four panels at the bottom:
Opening dashboard is informative, easy to digest.
- Credit Summary
- Score Factors
- Score Simulator
- Credit Report
At the top left is the menu icon for not only the major functions, but obvious links to Help & Feedback and Sign Out
Menu is clean, informative, complete.
As I navigated through all these displays, the most notable sensation I had was this app was devoid of agenda, obfuscation and poor design. Instead, it was actually a joy to walk through the data in such a visual and concise way. The app was clearly designed by iOS designers who both understand the iOS mentality and also their charter to make some typically technical financial data easy to view and digest.
One example of that is that the app is Universal, that is, designed to be used equally well on both the iPad and the iPhone. That would seem to be a no-brainer, but it's surprising how many developers short-change the customer in that area.
For those customers who prefer to use an Android version of the app, it was launched the same week in March, 2015.
Great Credit to Experian
I ended up being more than a little impressed with this app. The design, the user interface, the thoughtfulness, the conciseness, the navigation, the data layout, and the overall friendliness and the obvious way to provide feedback were far better than one might expect of a large corporation that hasn't been living and breathing iOS for years and years.
Clearly, this app is designed to inform and assist the customer in a friendly way, free of confusion, technical jargon and agenda. This was my most notable observation.
If you're an existing Experian credit monitoring customer, I highly recommend this app.