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Nova Credit partners with San Diego startup to tackle student housing crisis

Final exams are the least of students’ worries when they do not have a place to live. Dorm stays or bunking down with parents while in school are options for some, but they do not make the grade as a long-term solution.

Without a permanent address, finding work and building a social life is hard. Many young adults are unscored or credit invisible, and they cannot secure affordable housing without a quality borrow-repayment record, which takes years to develop.

According to the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau, 80% of 18-19-year-olds face an uphill battle because of their limited or non-existent credit history.

Rather than ignore this large segment of society, venture-backed Nova Credit set about developing an alternative to traditional credit analysis to empower borrowers and lenders.

The result, called Cash Atlas, is an innovative technology that analyzes an individual’s cash flow based on their bank transaction data to measure financial health. Nova Credit then distributes the results to organizations that directly interface with consumers such as students.

Nova Credit partners with HUGS to help solve student housing crisis

Collin Galster headshot
Collin Galster

According to Collin Galster, Nova Credit’s Head of International, the partnership with HUGS, a San Diego-based startup, is a “win-win for everyone.”

“Students who are new to the credit market have a chance to obtain housing without scrambling for cash to pay a larger-than-normal deposit. Better informed landlords can approve applicants, based on Cash Atlas results, without worrying about undue risk,” Galster said.

Carl Dumesle, CEO and co-founder of HUGS plans to continue to use Cash Atlas as it expands its efforts to housing markets in other areas.

Democratizing financial system to be more fair and inclusive

Galster describes Nova Credit as fast-growing, serving millions of individuals with thin credit files through its partnerships with American Express, HSBC, and other financial intermediaries.

Like most students, immigrants in the United States on work or educational visas would not qualify for credit or rental housing because they are unknown to traditional credit bureaus.

Nova Credit’s Credit Passport, similar to Cash Atlas, relies on consumer-permissioned credit data as an essential input. The difference is that an international visitor has a history with a credit bureau in a different country.


It is up to Nova Credit to retrieve an individual’s data from global credit services and then algorithmically standardize different currencies, reporting formats, languages, time zones, and delinquency cycles.

When asked about competitors, Galster says, “I believe Nova Credit is the only cross-border credit bureau that operates on a B2B business model. We are certainly a leader regarding the resources we allocate to comply with the Fair Credit Act and other relevant laws. We spend considerable time and energy building a robust infrastructure that can properly map or transform disparate data.”

Nova Credit expands to three new global markets

Since introducing its international credit reporting product in 2016, Nova Credit is on a glide path to helping consumers overseas, even as it increases its market share stateside. Galster points to the company’s recent expansion in Singapore, the United Kingdom, and the United Arab Emirates.

“We have a great team that believes in our corporate mission of opening the pathways to financial opportunity for diverse and underserved markets.”

Based on its roster of prominent distribution partners, Nova Credit seeks to be at the head of the class for its technology-driven approach to analyzing consumer creditworthiness.

  • Susan Mangiero

    Susan, CFA, MBA, MFA, Ph.D. is a 15+-year financial services, financial technology, and insurance veteran. Unlike many business writers, Susan has held various financial industry jobs, including derivatives/currency/bond trader, compliance risk manager, fiduciary expert, investment manager, educator, consultant, data analyst, and content management startup entrepreneur.