Modelling default probabilities: The classical vs. machine learning approach

University essay from KTH/Matematisk statistik; KTH/Matematisk statistik

Abstract: Fintech companies that offer Buy Now, Pay Later products are heavily dependent on accurate default probability models. This is since the fintech companies bear the risk of customers not fulfilling their obligations. In order to minimize the losses incurred to customers defaulting several machine learning algorithms can be applied but in an era in which machine learning is gaining popularity, there is a vast amount of algorithms to select from. This thesis aims to address this issue by applying three fundamentally different machine learning algorithms in order to find the best algorithm according to a selection of chosen metrics such as ROCAUC and precision-recall AUC. The algorithms that were compared are Logistic Regression, Random Forest and CatBoost. All these algorithms were benchmarked against Klarna's current XGBoost model. The results indicated that the CatBoost model is the optimal one according to the main metric of comparison, the ROCAUC-score. The CatBoost model outperformed the Logistic Regression model by seven percentage points, the Random Forest model by three percentage points and the XGBoost model by one percentage point.

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