TransUnion has upgraded a digital retail platform banks can use to promote loans for partner dealerships' inventory.
The credit bureau's Auto Payment Shopper, which launched in 2019, allows a lender's customers to filter partner dealerships' inventory into a list of vehicles the lender will pre-qualify them to finance.
The revised version announced March 9 incorporates CarNow's digital platform to provide more "real-time" inventory than before. It also allows features such as valuing trade-ins, scheduling test drives and shopping for finance and insurance products. Additionally, the upgraded platform reflects advances in the tools that can streamline an application, such as document capture and fraud prevention, according to TransUnion Senior Vice President Satyan Merchant.
The Auto Payment Shopper news follows another announcement of retailer technology pitched as a means for lenders to solicit auto loan volume directly from customers rather than hope dealerships send them business.
In January, CarSaver and CUNA Mutual Group announced a way for credit unions to send members notices of preapproval and offer customers a digital platform to shop and buy the vehicles they'd be financing.
"Consumers have increasingly digitized the shopping aspect of their lives, including buying large ticket items such as cars, and many consumers continue to show a preference toward conducting as much of that process as possible online," Merchant said in a statement March 9. "The prequalification capabilities of Auto Payment Shopper affords consumers the flexibility of accurately comparing a variety of vehicles by monthly payment directly with the lender — which allows consumers to make a more informed choice as to what car is ultimately the best fit for their budget."
But while lenders would play a more active role in car deals made using either platform, the loans arranged remain indirect — fostering rather than circumventing the dealership's ability to capture F&I revenue from the transaction. Both the CUNA and TransUnion products show interest rates incorporating dealer reserve, not buy rates, and also allow customers to shop and select a dealership's F&I products.
As Merchant put it, the lender would be giving dealerships "stronger leads." He suggested the advance work done on the deal by the bank would be among the factors deterring F&I offices from trying to substitute a different, more profitable lender.
"We don't expect that to be a major problem," he said.