“Dear Amit, we’re sad to know that you applied for a job with our competitor, Acme Online. But you’re a valued member of our team. So we’re increasing your salary by 25%. And throwing in an extra week of paid leave annually. Love, HR.”

Wait, what?

How did your company’s HR come to know about you having applied to a rival company? You didn’t tell a soul. Not your spouse, not your BFF, not your folks.

Were they monitoring your emails? Listening in on your phone calls? Checking your increased frequency of LinkedIn updates?

None of the above (though they could). Instead, the job site through which you applied did. Through its scarcely advertised product called Employee Watch. Which popped up the following alert on your HR manager’s screen:

“Dear HR, your employee Amit just applied for a job with Acme Online.”

Wait, WHAT?

We made that up. Job sites would never do that. But credit bureaus might.

Especially if those credit bureaus are named TransUnion CIBIL. With about 90% share of India’s credit bureau market, CIBIL has an interesting product called CIBIL Watch to help banks and lending institutions keep tabs on their customers.

CIBIL Watch is a real-time alert product that helps lender A know instantly if one of its customers is applying for a loan with lender B. CIBIL intimates lenders via a pop-up message if one of their borrowers is over-borrowing or is likely to turn into a defaulter. What started out as a nifty risk-mitigation tool, has, over two years, become something else in the hands of CIBIL and lenders like Bajaj Finance, HDFC Bank, Yes Bank, Kotak Mahindra Bank—a sales tool.

Risk mitigation to sales maximisation

One of the biggest users of CIBIL Watch is Bajaj Finance—among the country’s largest non-banking financial companies (NBFC). Its ability to sell multiple loans to each one of its borrowers is noteworthy. Interestingly, Bajaj has been looking for a senior manager, who will be in charge of CIBIL Watch, for a while now. It wants to use this channel as a “significant force multiplier to cross-sell products.”

Banks and NBFCs have five channels to reach customers. Through sales agents, telecallers, aggregators like BankBazaar and PaisaBazaar, and through their own branches and digital channels. On average, lenders spend as much as 2% of the loan amount to acquire a new borrower. But for channels like CIBIL Watch, it’s only about leveraging existing channels. It rides on the lender’s ability to act fast, have the flexibility to tailor-make products on the fly, and offer better pricing to lure borrowers.


Arundhati Ramanathan

Arundhati is Bengaluru-based. She is interested in how people use money in the digital age and how new economies will take shape based on that interaction. She has spent over 10 years reporting and writing on various subjects. Previous stints were at Mint, Outlook Business and Reuters.

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