PeerIndex, a London-based startup that scores social authority on a 1 to 100 scale, just released its “most influential non-celeb voices this year” list. Top of the heap? Kara Swisher, London blogger Umair Haque, technoblogger Robert Scoble and Brooklyn’s very own creative curator, Maria Popova.
Betabeat caught up with PeerIndex CTO Sanford Dickert, an occasional New Yorker, to ask about PI’s take on the trend of banks experimenting with the social graph as a metric for determining creditworthiness.
It’s something PI is aware of and has looked into, Mr. Dickert said, although it’s not necessarily on the startup’s roadmap. ”Klout and PeerIndex and everyone, we’re just starting out. We’re about a year in right now but there’s been research in this area for now over five years,” the jetsetting Mr. Dickert told Betabeat over the phone from Barcelona.
Using social media to evaluate creditworthiness makes sense, he said, but it’s not perfect. “It’s like actuary tables… over time as people use these self publishing tools it’s going to provide greater insights of what the likelihood is in terms of risk,” he said. “People who have high social reputation tend not to risk their reputation on not paying the bills. But here’s the funny part: for every time you hear that as a norm, I can show you Bernie Madoff.”
Is this use of the data a privacy concern for consumers, we asked.
“Every business is about mitigating risk and maximizing return. If you want X, you need to help us understand if we should take a risk and what is the equivalent risk on you,” Mr. Dickert explained.
But every company that uses your data also has to keep your trust, he said. “There are certain beliefs that we’re keeping true to, which is the responsibility to the individual rights and privacy, and how this personal data or this social capital is used,” he said. “It’s part of our interactions and transactions with the users to determine what we can do with it.”