The Creditinfo Chronicle

 The Know Your Customer (KYC) world and Creditinfo’s role in it.

The acronym KYC stands for three very simple and understandable words – Know Your Customer. But the meaning of the processes and expectations behind those three letters are most often not so simple and straightforward, as whoever must deal with this today already well-known acronym, knows that the world and the industry behind this magical acronym, is already vast and growing every day.

KYC in very essence means that you must have understanding and information of the background of your customer. Often this information is divided into three basic categories:

  • Identification of the persons connected or operating behalf the customer.
  • The field of activity or daily business including the understanding of the origin of the customers funds.
  • The understanding if customer possesses certain risks while having any business relationships with him.

Mainly this sort of detective work is required in the purpose of mitigation the risks in anti-money-laundering/fight against terrorism financing (AML/CTF) but it is also relevant in the process of imposing international sanctions as sanctioned persons are interested that their business interest would remain undiscovered.

Even companies that are not subject to AML regulation need to ensure that they stay out of trouble caused by risks that are risen because of partners or clients with fraudulent, criminal, or sanctioned background, as this may result with loss of revenues/funds, bad business reputation or fines by authorities.

So therefore, it is essential for market entities to trust their business affiliates and therefore they need to verify that everything is OK with their customers and threat of the damage caused by realization of different risks, is minimized.

What is happening in Europe to strike this conversation now?

One very practical side for knowing your customer is to be sure that you’re not violating any sanctioning regime in force. Sanctions and sanctioning regimes may not be familiar to all of us who we just are involved our day-to-day business, but this obligation is something we all must know and follow. International sanctions are seen as sort of political means for influencing certain group of entities, jurisdictions, or organizations to behave in line to accordance with the international human rights, rules of law and territorial integrity. Sanctions are imposed in a way that all private and legal entities are obliged to fulfill them, authorities who are imposing them are usually international organizations (EU, UN) or state governments.

As Russia launched massive war campaign in Ukraine in February 2022 and has performed several actions against Ukraine’s territorial integrity already from year 2014 this kind of behavior has naturally found a reflection from EU by imposing sanctions. As from 2014 there was already two regimes in force (regulations EU No 269/2014 and No 833/2014) it was easy on 2022 to EU to add several sanctioning updates (altogether by 8 packets) against Russia (and Belarus).

As the conflict remains in Ukraine and also as there are several war crimes discovered performed by Russian troops during the occupation of Ukraine, we can be more than certain that EU will impose more updates to Russian sanctioning regimes. This only intensifies the need for market entities to have a clear understanding on what are the situation regarding the restrictive measures in force and where to find that information.

How is CREDITINFO playing a role in this?

Mitigating the risks is always the question of having updated and trustworthy information that person must have for making decisions and enforcing correct procedures. Regarding risk mitigation and imposing enforced sanctioning regimes clients often face themselves in front of different questions –

  • What exactly do they have to do?
  • How do they do it?
  • Where can they find help and trustful partner for this?
  • Are the solutions for doing it comfortable and simple to use?
  • How expensive is it?

Providing both, the trustworthy information from respectful sources and the solution for being compliant in the regards to that obligation (by using Creditinfo-offered solution) is one of the ways of building up successful client relationship in KYC sector (obligations in KYC area may differ depending on the AML/TFC and imposing sanctions viewpoint). KYC procedures regarding sanctions can be divided into two different service blocks:

  • Identifying the persons behind and connected to legal entity.
  • Easy to use, reliable screening solution for determining whether there are imposed sanctions or not.

It is important to have flexible products in place for meeting the needs for most of the market entities as clients tend to prefer to order all the solutions from one place. For example, clients may have the need only for determining certain persons connected with legal entities (like UBO’s), other clients may only need data sources for setting up internal screening procedures for their inter-company use, while others are just willing to outsource everything (analysis, data and screening).

Lastly, instead of being in the last mile lets be the first! As already mentioned, there are different market entities who are operating in KYC business, and they are all seeking for cost efficient and trusted data sources for providing best data quality with best price to their customers. Creditinfo Group’s presence in several different countries, with the direct access to local state registry information or other base data source in those countries therefore makes us one of the trusted partners for well-known global companies.

KYC products are in process of continuous development and as the needs for our clients change, we need to align our services accordingly. If there are ideas, proposals, or questions, please feel free to reach me via email – urmas.pai@creditinfo.com

Urmas Pai

KYC & Fraud Global Product Manager

www.creditinfo.com

 

 

Creditinfo launches ESG Data Platform

Reykjavík / London, 20th October 2022 – Creditinfo Group, the leading global service provider for credit information and risk management solutions, has today announced the launch of VERA, a new environmental, social and corporate governance (ESG) data platform. The pioneering platform will provide financial services with a standardised overview of their ESG performance, helping them comply with ESG regulation, and will also create a way for other organisations to easily provide sustainability data to the financial sector.

VERA is a centralised platform that congregates information from a range of sources, including data directly reported by companies as well as external sources such as media coverage, judicial information, and supply chain operations. The information is then automatically standardised to allow organisations across financial services to obtain a holistic overview of ESG factors and performance, and easily establish how best to comply with regulation.

Initially being rolled out in Iceland, with other regions to follow globally, the platform can also be used by non-financial corporations when conducting supplier assessments to determine the ESG performance of their supply chains, and to provide sustainability data in a standardised way to the financial sector, helping to attract investment.

Reynir Smári Atlason, Director of sustainability at Creditinfo said: “Providing ESG information to financial services strengthens the presence and engagement of financial institutions – especially in markets where sustainability data is generally limited. It’s not only an ethical decision but a practical one – various markets don’t have the regulations in place to hold companies to account, yet ESG data is needed if they’re going to attract investment through sustainable financing. We’re really proud of how this platform levels the playing field and makes this information accessible and digestible.”

The VERA platform comes on the heels of Creditinfo’s own sustainability policy as the next step in its overall ESG strategy. Creditinfo’s aim to facilitate better decision making in financial services and enable greater access to finance for underserved SMEs, companies and individuals without credit ratings means it plays a vital role in social sustainability globally, and transparency in its environmental and social dealings across its regions must be a fundamental part of this.The next step will see the company publish its inaugural sustainability report evaluating performance areas against its sustainability policy in 2023.

Paul Randall, CEO at Creditinfo said: “Our ESG data platform and sustainability policy are just the first steps in understanding and addressing our wider external impact and helping others to do the same. Not only do we need to make sure we comply with regulation in this area, but the responsibility also lies with individual companies to be proactive when it comes to innovating in a sustainable and responsible way. We’re ready to lead by example here and I’m very excited by our ESG data platform and sustainability policy to ensure Creditinfo and other financial services are on track and compliant with regulation.”

Creditinfo’s sustainability policy can be found in full here.

ENDS

About Creditinfo

Established in 1997 and headquartered in London, UK, Creditinfo is a provider of credit information and risk management solutions worldwide. As one of the fastest-growing companies in its field, Creditinfo facilitates access to finance, through intelligent information, software and decision analytics solutions. With more than 30 credit bureaus running today, Creditinfo has the most considerable global presence in this field of credit risk management, with a significantly greater footprint than competitors. For decades it has provided business information, risk management and credit bureau solutions to some of the largest, lenders, governments and central banks globally to increase financial inclusion and generate economic growth by allowing credit access for SMEs and individuals. For more information, please visit www.creditinfo.com

JSC “International Bureau of Credit Histories” launched the chatbot “MBKI online” in order to provide Ukrainians and migrants from Ukraine with access to their credit histories.

Lending is one of the main elements of the modern financial system. In one way or another, most people rely on loans from banks – whether these are credits, mortgages, installments, credit cards to pay for critical goods and services. An important role in this process is played by credit bureaus that collect, store, process and transmit information on borrowers’ payment discipline, credit scoring and current obligations.

However, when people move to a new country or are forcibly evicted from their homes due to occupation or fleeing war – this is what many Ukrainians are currently experiencing – it becomes much more difficult to access financial and other services. This unfortunately disadvantages refugees and adds to the problem regardless of whether they had good or bad credit history before.

Aiming to resolve issues related to solvency confirmation of the tenant from Ukraine and checking the credit history of Ukrainians when applying for a loan or employment, JSC “IBCH” (one of the largest Credit History Bureaus in Ukraine, a member of the international Creditinfo Group since May 2021) created the “MBKI online” chatbot.

For more than 16 years IBCH (Creditinfo Ukraine) has been cooperating with the largest banks and non-bank financial institutions, including foreign financial institutions and credit bureaus of other countries. The organization is now focusing its attention on supporting Ukrainians, both in Ukraine and abroad, with getting access to credit reports.

Kateryna Danylchenko, CEO of JSC “IBCH” (Creditinfo Ukraine), stated, “Since the beginning of the war in Ukraine, over 6 million people – including myself, my fellow colleagues and partners– have been forced to leave the country at short notice with no idea if or when they will return. Displaced Ukrainian refuges face a whole host of challenges without necessary documentation or access to registries. While JSC “IBCH” (MBKI, Creditinfo Ukraine) became the first Ukrainian bureau to launch cross-border data sharing with bureaus from 5 countries, it is also important to assure easy and mobile direct-to-consumer gate to credit history reports. “MBKI online” is so important in helping Ukrainians staying in country and abroad gain online access to their credit histories (also in English), so they can prove their ability to make payments on time to landlords or new employers, follow their credit history updates and bureau score change, as well as to report about lost identification documents.”

“Creditinfo was set up to aid financial inclusion through making credit information more easily accessible and digestible for borrowers and lenders.” – comments Paul Randall, CEO Creditinfo Group. “I’m so glad that there’s something practical we’ve been able to do to help Ukrainian refugees across Europe to access financial services. The creation of this chatbot is an important development in our journey to make the lives of everyone forcibly displaced by this war that tiny bit easier.”

The “MBKI online” chatbot, available on Viber and Telegram, gives Ukrainians access to their own credit history and offers an easy way of identification including using BankID.

Chatbot enables the customer:

• To get a certificate about credit history (in Ukrainian and English);

• To find out personal credit score;

• To get answers to basic questions about credit history;

• To inform the Bureau about the loss of a passport or other identity document;

• To ask for a loan and find out available offers.

Chatbot accepts different payment methods (including bank card, Apple Pay and Google Pay). For more information and to start working with the service, follow the link: https://credithistory.com.ua/bots/

The fintech movement in the banking industry 

Is fintech an enabler or disruptor in the banking industry? Fintech the new technology that improves and digitalizes the delivery and services of the banking industry. These solutions can include software helping connect with customers, businesses, and banks through agile processes to manage financial services better. Or better use of data to offer a more personalized and customer centric offering.  

The lending landscape has gone through some major changes in recent years, and this shift does not appear to be slowing down. Based on the latest information from the World Bank, about 76% of adults have a bank or mobile account, this is up from 51% in just over a decade. The rise of mobile money solutions, which allow users to turn their smartphones in digital wallets and use it to pay for services, have played an important role tapping into the unbanked segment and supporting this improvement.

Fintechs are realizing the opportunities to disrupt the challenges faced by traditional banking and offering new solutions that better suit the needs of customers and businesses. By embracing technology, fintech companies can collect and store more data on customers so they can offer personalized solutions with greater choice of products. Unlike traditional banks, fintechs can move with speed and deliver digital solutions improving the user experience. 

The increase in fintech players has increased competition between traditional banks and fintechs. Traditional banks are paving the way to collaborate with fintechs while others are implementing teams to focus on in-house projects. Older generation customers may value trust over the latest trends and will therefore remain loyal customers to traditional banks., However, younger generations will demand more and swifter solutions because that is what they are familiar with. Traditional banks embracing fintech solutions will see them provide the flexible solutions that customers are looking for.  

One of the biggest reason the banking industry has adapted to fintechs, is due to their ability to connect with customers 24/7 through an omnichannel approach. This not only increases customer reach and convenience but also allows banks not to rely solely on customers visiting a branch.  

 It is expected that we will continue to see changes in the banking industry for years to come, the speed of change will depend on how much and how fast customers continue to adapt to fintech solutions. It’s clear, traditional banks are no longer the monopoly in this industry, with more digital banks, neo banks and new players such as telcos and payment companies entering the lending landscape. Nobody is expecting the traditional banks to be replaced but it is likely that banks and fintechs partnering with one another will allow the traditional banks to enhance technologies and by coming together both the fintechs and the banks can benefit in this highly competitive market.  

 Samuel White,

Direct Markets Director, Creditinfo Group.

www.creditinfo.com

Evolution of customer onboarding and risk assessment 

This year, Creditinfo celebrated its 25-year anniversary, so I decided to look back on how the landscape in effective credit risk management has evolved. 

While it was a little before my time, I’m sure there are still many people today who remember that the only way to open a bank account, apply for a loan or to be considered for a mortgage was to visit your local branch and sit with a loan officer. Though, this is still the case in many emerging markets even today, there will be some small differences on the data used and the risk assessment criteria that is in place.  

Historically, a visit to the branch would involve meeting a loan officer who would then try to understand your circumstances before making an approval. If there was a past relationship or a connection (family member, friend, etc) with the loan officer, this would usually work in your favor. It was a direct relationship that usually lasted a lifetime. The loan officer would know or at least try to understand as much personal information on your employment, income, and expenses as possible and then would make a personal judgement to provide you with a form of credit. All of this was most likely completed and documented on papers and filed into a filing system for record.  

 Fast forward a few decades and not only are local branches disappearing, but also the idea of sharing personal information with a “stranger”, along with any supporting documents that validate your circumstances are a thing of the past. In a world of smartphones, tablets, and access to the internet 24/7, we have moved to a new wave of digital lending.   

Lenders are implementing new strategies today to meet the end needs of customers by enabling access to credit instantly at their fingertips. Digitalization has become the new norm in lending and to succeed today, lenders need to adjust and transform their platforms. It is now a thing of the past to fill in an application form on paper when we have a smartphone in our pockets that can allow us to fill in the same information into a mobile application within a few minutes. As part of the loan onboarding, we can now validate our identity through biometric authentication options – fingerprint analysis, selfie/face recognition and document validation, etc. eliminating the need to do human to human verification.  

 The challenges from old-fashioned lending methods, i.e. understanding family ties or seeking information on employment and income would typically result in an unfair and inaccurate risk assessment. With the vast amount of information available today, either traditional or non-traditional, we can accurately assess everyone, even customers with limited credit history – “thin files”. These are often rejected due to the lack of evidence on how risk-tolerant or risk-averse they are. Usually, the absence of traditional information for these customers creates a challenge for them to receive the financial support they need. With the introduction of psychometric data, e-wallet data or open banking solutions, lenders can combine credit scoring methods with traditional models to provide accurate and reliable risk assessment.   

The benefits and success of this digital transformation and innovative approach to lending is not just about delivering quick-fix money solutions. Instead, it is about empowering individuals, facilitating access to credit and growing our global economies.    

If you are interested to reach the top and win the digital race with a state-of-the-art digital lending platform then reach out to Gary Brown, Commercial Director, Creditinfo Group.  

Visit www.creditinfo.com for more information.

Paving the way for a brighter future through SME lending  

Developing modern solutions and removing barriers, paves the way for a brighter future through SME lending

SMEs (Small and Medium-sized Enterprises) are known as one of the biggest business sectors in each economy, being important contributors to job creation and global economic development. They create more than 50% of employment worldwide.

SMEs have gained importance in developing economies. Although SMEs have some weaknesses, they are less affected by economic crises due to their flexibility and ability to keep up with changing conditions. SMEs are vital establishments to create an effective innovation ecosystemThis is shown by recent studies that SME’s can contribute to over 55% of GDP and over 50% of total employment.

SMEs can find it increasingly difficult to borrow money from traditional banks because of strict requirements. It is often seen that SMEs are riskier than large institutions as it is difficult for banks to evaluate them in the same way since they often do not have solid accounting systems. This difficulty in assessing their creditworthiness often impacts the bank’s ability to provide affordable credit. As a result, many SMEs are forced to look at alternative solutions such as expensive credit lines charging high interest rates or offering costly collateral. Neither of these options are sustainable for small businesses.

SMEs need fast decisions and a more agile, digital approach. This is where Creditinfo and local Fintechs are working in collaboration to support the sector. Together, we specialize in using technology to quickly assess each SME’s entire data footprint and then provide tailored financial solutions. Based on our experience in Africa, we can assess the credit risk an SME poses by using real-time data from multiple sources, including e-wallets, credit bureaus and credit scores. The traditional method, consisting of manual processes and hard copies, is now an outdated approach in the digital world.

Digital SME finance, using alternative data, offers an extraordinary opportunity for addressing some of the challenges. Every time SMEs and their customers use digital services, conduct banking transactions, make or accept digital payments, use their mobile phones, or manage their receivables and payables through a digital platform, they create alternative data. This real-time and verified data can be analyzed to determine both capacity and willingness to repay loans.

Specific SME assessment methodology can also be applied. For example, small companies tend to have a greater level of owner centricity. Therefore, blending business and personal data can enable the development of highly predictive blended scorecards that utilize the payment behaviour of business owners and managers and company credit data to produce a more comprehensive risk assessment.

Help is also needed from Central Banks to continue to support this sector. We are seeing reforms happening globally where Central Banks are implementing mandates for all banks to lend a set percentage of their credit portfolios to SMEs. Boosting the availability of finance for the SME sector, the reforms aim to ease the flow and reduce the high cost of credit to a sector that is considered an engine of growth for the future.

SME lending is rapidly growing, and by putting the customer needs first and using new solutions and data, we can begin to shift the status quo. Globally there is a shift toward digital lending solutions, which can support a level playing field for SMEs. By transforming this lending sector as a whole, we can make it more accessible for small businesses to grow and continue making a difference.

Joe Bowerbank – Business/Commercial Development, Creditinfo Group.

www.creditinfo.com

Angola’s first licensed credit bureau in partnership with Creditinfo to provide millions with access to finance

  • Private credit bureau will support responsible lending and economic growth
  • Millions of unbanked citizens and small businesses to gain access to lending for the first time

Luanda/London, 16th May 2022 – Creditinfo Group, the leading global service provider for credit information and risk management solutions, today announces plans to open Angola’s first licensed credit bureau, with Bureau Central Privada de Informação de Crédito SA (Bureau). This long-term strategic partnership, represents a vote of confidence and major investment into Angola’s buoyant economy, unlocking access to credit for millions of micro-to-medium sized businesses and citizens – many of whom are currently unbanked.

To deliver a world-leading private credit bureau solution, Creditinfo will combine Bureau‘s local knowledge with its own extensive experience delivering private credit bureau solutions in developing markets – including across Sub-Saharan Africa. The project’s initial remit will include Creditinfo’s most popular products and services, including CBS. Based on market appetite, further value-added products will be introduced.

Samúel White, Regional Director at Creditinfo said: “Accessing credit has long been a challenge across Sub-Saharan Africa. By opening Angola’s first private credit bureau, we’ll enable banks and other lenders to extend credit to citizens and businesses, helping to build and develop its already thriving economy. Supporting the unbanked to access finance requires a specific set of experiences and insights which Creditinfo has honed over decades of working across the region. We’re proud to be a leader in this space and can’t wait to open for another dynamic market together with our strategic partners.”

Cristiano Monnerat, Director at Bureau Central Privada de Informação de Crédito S.A. added: “Boasting significant untapped opportunities for wealth creation and a young, dynamic population, Angola represents an attractive investment for us. As such, we’re excited to be able to draw on Creditinfo’s global expertise to build a private credit bureau that’s run by local people, for local people. All in all, this marks a major step forward for Angola’s growing economy.”

-ENDS-

 

About Creditinfo

Established in 1997 and headquartered in Reykjavík, Iceland, Creditinfo is a provider of credit information and risk management solutions worldwide. As one of the fastest-growing companies in its field, Creditinfo facilitates access to finance, through intelligent information, software and decision analytics solutions.

With more than 30 credit bureaus running today, Creditinfo has the most considerable global presence in this field of credit risk management, with a significantly greater footprint than competitors. For

decades it has provided business information, risk management and credit bureau solutions to some of the largest, lenders, governments and central banks globally to increase financial inclusion and generate economic growth by allowing credit access for SMEs and individuals. For more information, please visit www.creditinfo.com

About Bureau Central Privada de Informação de Crédito S.A.

Established in 2021, the Bureau Central Privada de Informação de Crédito S.A. (Bureau) supports access to finance in Angola – with a focus on underserved segments of society with no formal access to credit facilities. Bureau is led by a highly qualified team of Brazilian advisors based in Angola. In February 2022, the Bureau received its operational license from the Central Bank of Angola, fulfilling all of the legislative and regulatory requirements.

The long-term strategic partnership with Creditinfo Group will provide Bureau with the necessary insights and industry best practices from similar markets to increase economic growth and improve financial inclusion across Angola.

Media Contacts:

Jack Benda

Red Lorry Yellow Lorry for Creditinfo Group creditinfo@rlyl.com

+44 (0)7760 291 679

Open Banking in the MENA region

We recently sat down with the Commercial Director at Creditinfo Group, Gary Brown, where he highlighted his thoughts on Open Banking in  the MENA (Middle East and North Africa) region. These were some of his insights:

What is Open Banking?

Open Banking is a service that provides third-party financial service providers open access to consumer banking transactional data from banks and financial institutions using application programming interfaces (APIs). Open Banking is growing with popularity globally and in the MENA and could soon become the latest source of FinTech to shape the banking industry.

Delivered through open banking, banks allow access and control of customers personal and financial data to third-party service providers. Of course, customers are required to grant consent to allow the bank access and permission to share. Lenders are then able to use customers data and transaction history to drive insights such as spending habits and regular payments. This will enable more competition and innovation to financial services which will lead to better products to help consumers manage their money.

What are the benefits to Open Banking?

Open Banking allows lenders to add an additional layer of data and complete a more accurate and comprehensive picture of a customer’s financial situation to offer more competitive and profitable loan products. It can also benefit the consumer and help them manage their own expenses and accounts. An open Banking application can display all the consumers banking accounts in one place and display their spending habits and behaviors.

Open Banking is a straight-forward solutions with low integration costs that can greatly benefit large and established banks, small banks and digital banks. It can reduce operational costs and provide a wider customer outreach through digital channels, hugely important in the MENA with such a high percentage of the population with access to a digital smartphone. This new technology can strengthen customer relationships and customer retention by helping consumers manage their expenses and connect with them through digitalization.

How will Open Banking improve the customer experience in the MENA?

With such high smartphone usage across MENA, Open Banking will provide consumers the ability to have full control over their finances under one view, as well provide them with a better range of products and services personalized to their financial situation. Consumers across the MENA are requesting more flexible and forward-looking systems that support fintech innovation. Open Banking allows consumers to be in control and empowers them and small businesses by creating a simple platform for accessing, controlling, and sharing their data so they can benefit from it. With connected accounts across the financial services landscape, consumers and small businesses can put their data to work, whether it’s for one specific purpose or across multiple apps and services.

Data exchange is crucial across any financial ecosystem and Open Banking plays a vital role by providing a new additional layer of data. Enabling a secure and safe flow of data across accounts and apps efficiently will fuel innovation for banks and provide many new benefits across the industry, such as improving financial literacy and extend financial inclusion to the underserved.

Can you explain the differences between Open Banking and Open Finance?

Open Banking and Open Finance are the latest buzz topics when it comes to fintechs and innovations in the Banking industry. Open Finance has been developed from Open Banking and will provide an extra layer of data available to consumers and organizations, Open Finance will include other financial data, such as mortgages, savings, pensions, insurance, utilities, etc. This will enable consumers to provide access to their entire financial footprint and provide them with an even better customer experience.

To better serve the unbanked or underserved, Open Finance will further level the playing field and make it easier for these consumers to have access to affordable and sustainable credit, providing everyone access to the services they require and deserve. With more access to finance, we can expect to see better economic growth across MENA.

Paul Randall marks 15 years at Creditinfo Group

We recently sat down with our CEO, Paul Randall and asked him 15 questions to mark his 15 years at Creditinfo Group. Get to know a little more about Paul as he celebrates this milestone:

  1. Describe yourself in 3 words? Competitive. Curious. Optimistic.
  2. What was your first job? JD Williams in Manchester -a clothing retail outlet that sold clothes on credit.
  3. How many countries have you worked in? Over 50 countries and counting.
  4. How long have you worked in the credit industry? Over 35 years; not only just the credit industry, but also in telcos, retail, and utilities. 
  5. What has been your most shocking discovery working in this industry so far? I think some of the practices on collections. I feel that collections processes need to be more humane. There is also the fact that there are additional costs to customers particularly those who are borrowing short term. There is a place for short term lending, which has a higher cost than low risk lending, however this needs to be done fairly.  
  6. What has been your highest moment working at Creditinfo Group? Meetings with central banks particularly in West Africa in Senegal. The BCEAO is very prestigious organization, which is very well respected, and for us to demonstrate that we could provide meaningful services to that region, was very important. Other great moments were winning major tenders with organizations such as Pefindo and Safaricom. 
  7. Out of all the markets we are present in, which one intrigues you the most and why? So many markets intrigue me in different ways. I think the variety is what intrigues me the most – working from SME’s, business lending, all the way to trade credit, and everything in between.
  8. Working at Creditinfo opens doors to meeting a lot of personalities to look up to. Who have you met so far that has influenced your career? There are a number of personalities in the in industry that I’ve met and worked with. I have been lucky to have had a lot of good leaders. I have also learnt from team members, that gave me important feedback. When I was in banking, I had a risk management director Caroline Hendra, who was really inspiring as she went into a very male dominated banking environment in the 90’s, and through her intelligence, she transformed the business. Graham Platts, was also a big influence in terms of understanding of risk management and credit scoring. When I was at Experian, Mark Gaudart made it clear that it’s not only about having knowledge, but also how you communicate that information that is critical to ensuring that the message is passed. I have also learnt a lot from Reynir Grétarsson on being entrepreneurial, taking risks and having emotional intelligence when it comes to negotiation.
  9. How do you as Paul maintain the equilibrium between work and life? I spend my spare time on sporting activities (practicing and watching). I also make time for my family and friends, and this to me brings balance. 
  10. As our Group CEO, how can you say this role has transformed you? I’ve learned a lot about business; understanding the appropriated strategy and how to make that happen; dynamics of people within the business and I have also been so impressed by the quality of the teams that we have and how hard they work.
  11. What has been your greatest motivation? Seeing the success of team members will always continue to motivate me. Witnessing their growth in different stages is always something that pushes me as well so that we all excel in the end.
  12. What are you currently reading? True History of the Kelly Gang – Winner 2001 Man Booker Prize (UK).
  13. What is your morning routine? Training in the morning – through zoom videos while overlooking the sea at 7:00 o’clock in the morning as the sun is rising is quite fantastic!
  14. What fun fact can you share that we don’t know about Paul Randall? As you can see from the countries I have been in, I am curious and always learning about new cultures and trying out different cuisines (anything with seafood always a favorite!)
  15. Parting shot? Give us a quote in Paul’s words. I like the phrase – “It is better to have fought and lost than to have never fought at all.” But I like to win!

Closing the lending gender gap

To make our economy truly financially inclusive, there are many things we need to address – from ensuring people are paid equally to removing biases from the financial ecosystem. One of those biases that urgently needs to be tackled is in the lending market, to ensure that women are not disproportionately prevented from accessing credit and financing products.

Women are key contributors to the economy, making up 40 percent of the world’s workforce – particularly in developing economies. Not only are women typically responsible for the bulk of household purchasing, but their employment falls in sectors that are crucial for economic growth and development.

That said, we often find that women’s involvement in the flow of capital around the economy to be less than we might expect – with reasons stemming from cultural barriers to participation to structural issues in the financial ecosystem. While cultural issues may be more difficult to overcome, there are things we can be doing to address these structural issues holding back the female economy.

The credit industry, from regulators to lenders and to credit bureau all contribute to make changes.  In this article, we discuss some of the challenges of the current situation to some of the potential solutions.

In some markets, the gender pay gap is particularly pronounced – a Creditinfo analysis of the Lithuanian market found that of the 81 sectors into which economic activity breaks down, men are paid more than women in 72, and average pay for men often exceeds women by 30-50 percent. In some sectors, such as air transport, gaming, and gambling, men’s pay can be up to 127 percent above their female colleagues. Closing this gap is going to be key to rebalancing the economy and realising a more financially inclusive world.  There is work being done as part of the ESG initiatives (ESG = Environmental, social and corporate governance) that is starting to make salary gaps more transparent, as well as representation of women on company boards.  Credit bureau, such as Creditinfo Lithuania, are providing specific segments on credit reports to ease access to this information.

However, even outside of pay issues, there are significant problems in the lending markets – and here data can help provide a way forward.

Creditinfo analysis of the lending market in Kenya yielded some very interesting findings. Despite women having higher average credit scores than men (628 vs 623), they have significantly smaller credit footprints (41% vs 59%) and utilisation (82.2% vs 93.9%). This is quite a marked difference and can have a widespread adverse impact.

If women are not able to access financing on a personal level, then their spending power is diminished and their non-participation in the economy will be felt. If they are not able to access financing on a professional level too, the effects are compounded – and the economic imbalance will continue to hold back economic growth and development.

Many other developing economies are experiencing the same issues. In Morocco, for example, the lending market similarly favours men, with women only making up 31% of the active borrowing market.

This needs to change.

To make our world fairer and our economy work for everyone, we need to remove these structural barriers to financing.  In general moving to digital lending and minimising subjective human intervention in lending vastly improves the equality.  Credit scores will reflect the actual risk of individuals based on actual data.  It is important that historic bias is not built into algorithms, model developers need to be aware of the potential of this and remain vigilant.

Regulators have a role as well, over dependence on DTI (debt to income) in their supervisory rules can build in a strong gender bias.  The evidence has already been shown that women are lower paid.  With DTI rules, large proportions of women can be forced to high interest rate lending or pushed out of formal market to the informal credit market without legal protection.

We see the evidence from Latvia where the credit score (fig 1) is highly predictive of future non-payment and should be a significant element of credit decision, it is proven to be predictive at all income levels.  DTI ( Fig 2) is much less predictive and would eliminate many lower income women from formal credit where strict rules around DTI exist.

The best way to start making changes is by using data, whether ESG information or credit scoring. If we can understand the situation clearly and how the picture needs to change, we can begin to address it. We can also measure and manage progress against key performance indicators.

For lenders, this can be a significant opportunity – that a whole section of the economy, with good credit scores and low credit utilisation has been continually underserved, means they can be very targeted with new products and services that cater to that nascent market and generate new revenue streams while tackling financial inclusion.

This is something we believe very strongly in and are working with partners to help address. If we can help de-risk the lending ecosystem, we can make the economy fairer for all and reap the significant benefits that unlocks.

Visit www.creditinfo.com for more information.

Emma Camilleri,

HR Director, Creditinfo Group.

Top trends that will shape banking in 2022 

We sat down with our Direct Markets Director at Creditinfo Group, Samuel White, to discuss some of the key trends that will shape banking in the MENA and Asia region. These were some of his thoughts:

New market players from non-traditional lenders such as telco or payment providers

We are seeing an increasingly number of non-banks entering the markets. There has been a clear sign that these companies have a wealth of internal data through their platforms and usually e-wallet transactions. It has been proven that this data is extremely valuable during the risk assessment process.

SME finance

SMEs are playing an instrumental role in local economies but still struggle to receive the access to banking products in a timely fashion. In the region every country is looking at how better to serve these customers and provide them with the solutions they require.

Digital Banks, Neo Banks, Born Digital Banks

Many of the traditional lenders are based on legacy technologies and we have seen an accelerated approach to digital transformation over the last 2 years. We have also seen some banks create new digital arms to their organization setup with new technology away from legacy portfolios. These Born Digital Banks are increasing in the region, and anybody left behind can expect to lose some market share in the future.

BNPL

Buy Now Pay Later (or as some are calling it Save now pay later) is not a new concept but there is no doubt it is growing with popularity. The demand for flexible payment offerings is at an all-time high. Typically, these smaller value loans are based on impulse buying so lenders must make sure they have the process in place to offer instant decisioning.

We also asked him how Creditinfo is playing a role in shaping these trends:

How is Creditinfo helping banks lead in the digital era? 

At Creditinfo we are focusing on helping banks streamline and improve the credit process across the full credit lifecycle, from origination through scoring, risk, decisioning and portfolio management. We are offering enhanced digital channels to meet the customer demands and reach the underserved or unbanked segments. We recognize it has become more accessible for individuals and SMEs to make use of digital financial services and by working with Banks we can develop software and applications to deliver services that are more transparent and automated.

What is Creditinfo’s business model and how do you see this model shaping the banking industry?

Creditinfo is a provider of credit information and risk management solutions worldwide, one of our primary goals is to help facilitate access to finance. We have built credit bureaus globally and across different markets, giving us key insights and knowledge into best practices. Creditinfo has a vision to create successful partnerships with lenders, governments, central banks to help increase financial inclusion and generate economic growth by allowing credit access for individuals and SMEs.

Creditinfo wants to continue building products and working with partners to add further solutions and data to enable lenders to further lend in a responsible fashion. Lenders are shifting their attitude towards FinTechs to keep pace with change and remain competitive. There is a huge variety of FinTech offerings available today using wide range of data that’s delivered through applications to provide lending decisions in only a few seconds.

Internet safety tips

Safer Internet Day this year is being celebrated on 8th February 2022, and it is already the 19th edition, since its introduction on 6th February 2004. The first one was celebrated in 13 EU countries and Australia, and today in approximately 200 countries worldwide. As the name suggests, the purpose of this campaign is to spread awareness and make the internet a safer place for its users.

In recent years, the awareness on cyber security, hackers, and the need to secure your digital identity have grown significantly but there is still a lot that goes unnoticed. Social networking, inappropriate content and finally, cyberbullying are still a threat to many non-vigilant users. Among the people who are the most vulnerable online there are children and the elderly. These are the groups I would suggest families to focus on.

Talk to your kids and elderly about the risks they can face on the internet and social media and explain to them for the start that:

  • There is a reason for privacy and security settings so do set those up properly on browsers and social media
  • If something is personal, keep it that way. Don’t post pictures of your kids, your holiday schedule, full address, or phone number, remember: “Once posted, always posted”
  • You never know who is watching, check your privacy setting often and just share your news with a trusted group of people
  • Make sure you know the people you are in contact with online
  • Your online reputation is important also for your future career or business venture, so think before you post

If you happen to come across something disturbing, most countries have Safer Internet Centers where you can report any inappropriate content (https://www.saferinternetday.org/en-GB/in-your-country), do not hesitate to do so. There may be some case where authorities or police should be involved as well.

For further insights on how social media and algorithms use your information online, I suggest you watch the Netflix documentary “Social Dilemma” and acknowledge the impact of your actions online.

There is a lot happening in the cyber environment daily, so always stay vigilant. I wish you safe browsing and safe online interactions.

Jakub Burian,

Chief Security Officer, Creditinfo Group.

Creditinfo Lithuania invests 1 Million Euros in new Credit Bureau System

The credit bureau is carrying out strategical changes and gathering resources inside of the group of companies.

In implementation of the development plans and presentation of new services, the credit bureau “Creditinfo Lietuva“ informs having invested one million euro into a new information system of the credit bureau and that it is going to introduce several innovative products soon. The credit bureau is implementing strategical changes – it is gathering all the data resources and processes inside the group of companies “Creditinfo Lietuva“ for more effective administration.

Last March, “Levine Leichtman Capital Partners” (LLCP) became the new main shareholder of the group of companies “Creditinfo”. It announced its plans to grow and to expand the activities of credit bureaus in the international market and to invest into development of new data-based solutions. The investor with solid international business management experience focuses on the information technologies and automated solutions.

“We have a good possibility to start providing more new services in Lithuania (as in other advanced financial markets), to start providing more new services that would enable the creditors to make faster and more accurate decisions, and the consumers to receive financing more expeditiously, – says Mr. Aurimas Kačinskas, CEO of “Creditinfo Lietuva“. – The services of credit information, risk management and data analysis that we are providing demand for bigger collection of the resources in one place, thus, we have invested into development of the credit bureau’s system of a new generation, and we have expanded the available IT platform. This allows controlling quality of the services better, providing them continuously, and expanding the suggest scope of services by innovative products.”

Automated solutions and artificial intellect data services will be introduced

The services of “Creditinfo Lietuva“ that will be launched soon will help the clients to use more automated solutions and products of the credit bureau not only in Lithuania, but also in other countries, and to evaluate creditworthiness of borrowers, and to control the financing risks. It is planned to introduce the innovations in the first quarter of this year already.

The pending changes are the part of strategy of the new main shareholder of the group of companies “Creditinfo”, LLCP – to apply the international business management experience for the activities of credit bureaus in more than 30 countries. The company of private capital, “Levine Leichtman Capital Partners” operating for 38 years, is managing 14 investment funds and has invested into 90 companies in the United States of America (USA) and Europe.

The international group of companies “Creditinfo“ includes the credit bureau operating in Lithuania, “Creditinfo Lietuva“, that was established in 2000. The credit bureau has been collecting and managing the biggest data system on creditworthiness of the Lithuanian companies and residents, and providing services of credit risk management, rating creation and modelling for more than 20 years. The company has 43 employees and its annual income in 2020 amounted to 5,6 million euro.

More information:

Aurimas Kačinskas, CEO of “Creditinfo Lietuva”

Aurimas.Kacinskas@creditinfo.lt

Tel: +370 618 10110

Creditinfo Gulf and Tech Access Strategic Partnership

Creditinfo Gulf and Tech Access joined forces and announced a strategic partnership to enhance risk assessment and facilitate access to finance in the MENA region.

Both companies will help Lenders and Tech firms streamline the risk assessment process and increase credit quality, earnings and growth while mitigating credit risk.

Creditinfo is a leading service provider for credit information and risk management solutions worldwide. It has established more than 33 credit bureaus in mature and emerging markets over 4 continents, thus tangibly contributing to growing and strengthening economies.

Tech Access has become an acknowledged industry leader in the ICT enterprise distribution market in the MENA region. Providing technology solutions to large Govt., private and public corporations across UAE, KSA, Pakistan, Levant & Africa regions.

“Our partnership, comprised with Creditinfo Gulf, is to enhance our local and regional coverage on credit information and fintech service provider across the globe, offering cutting-edge analytical tools and software solutions for the financial industry for efficient credit risk and strategic decision making” commented Jawwad Rehman, CEO Tech Access.

“This announcement marks another significant milestone, and we are excited to start this new partnership with Tech Access to provide full potential of intelligent information, software and analytics solutions. Supported by international know-how and local market support, setting a remarkable high bar in the MENA region. We look forward to working with Tech Access and Financial Lenders to deliver these capabilities.” commented Gary Brown, Managing Director Creditinfo Gulf

Ends.

Creditinfo awarded contract as the service provider for the Credit Information System of Seychelles

Creditinfo to establish a new Credit Information System for the country.

London, UK – 11th January 2022: Creditinfo Group, the leading global credit information and decision analytics solutions provider, today announced that it has signed a contract to design, implement and support a new Credit Information System (CIS) for the Central Bank of Seychelles (CBS).

The contract – which will see Creditinfo’s solution rolled out over the next 12 months – makes CBS the 10th central bank to procure a credit information solution from the company.

At the end of 2020, the Seychelles population stood at 98,963, out of which there were approximately 20,099 active retail credit consumers. Seven commercial banks, all licensed and regulated by CBS, are currently the main institutions granting credit facilities to customers. A local credit union and two micro-finance institutions, also supervised by CBS, are the other major providers of credit facilities.

One of the recommendations in Seychelles’ Financial Sector Development Implementation Plan adopted in 2014 was the need to enhance the effectiveness of the existing CIS operated by CBS, inclusive of broadening the scope for the capture of information across all relevant credit providers. In this context, CBS initiated a tender process in April 2021, inviting credit information solutions providers to submit proposals to develop and implement a new CIS. The contract has ultimately been awarded to Creditinfo.

The solution will include scoring, benchmarking, and the implementation of external data sources. Creditinfo will also provide training, consultancy and ongoing support services for the management of the system over the next five years to ensure that CBS employees, local lenders and data providers have the necessary knowledge to make the new CIS a successful endeavor.

Once established, the new CIS will support existing lenders and, over time, onboard other credit data providers, including fintech companies, state-owned enterprises, hire purchase providers, credit sales and financial leasing companies, insurance companies, amongst others. Hence, the new and expanded CIS will support the incorporation of additional data to supplement traditional sources and ultimately provide more individuals and businesses with the financing needed to realize their goals and grow the economy. In addition, the enhanced system will assist the overall mitigation of credit risk.

Samuel White, Regional Director at Creditinfo commented: “While the Central Bank of Seychelles currently has a credit information system in place, it doesn’t meet the market needs of today, and certainly doesn’t enable it to realize the future ambitions of the country and its economy. We’re delighted to win this tender to put in place the technology and knowledge base to help open doors for individuals and small and medium-sized enterprises by increasing access to credit.

We see huge untapped potential in the market, and we are excited to work with our 10th central bank customer to establish a credit information system fit for the future. Once operational, this new system will enable more responsible lending by empowering local credit providers with the data they need to ensure they manage lending risks appropriately, ultimately boosting access to finance for individuals and small businesses.”

Caroline Abel, Governor, Central Bank of Seychelles, said: “Seychelles has a vibrant financial services ecosystem, and access to credit is an important aspect as we look to boost financial inclusion in the market and look at ways to grow our economy. At the same time, lenders should have access to appropriate data to have a better overview of the creditworthiness of borrowers, be able to assess credit risks and make sound financial decisions. Information collected through such a system can also be used for analysis and monitoring in the areas of financial inclusion and stability.   

The CBS is therefore looking forward to the collaboration with Creditinfo over the next five years to have a modern credit information system that is in line with industry standards, ultimately assisting the development of the credit environment and overall financial sector.”

Paul Randall, CEO of Creditinfo Group added: “Creditinfo has been effective in strengthening the financial infrastructure in numerous countries across the world, and working with central banks to create a robust and fair way to assess risk and credit affordability. We are looking forward to supporting the Central Bank of Seychelles with their implementation of a future-looking credit information solution and widening access to the information and financing that will be key to future business and economic growth in the country.”

-ENDS-

About Creditinfo

Established in 1997 and headquartered in London, UK, Creditinfo is a provider of credit information and risk management solutions worldwide. As one of the fastest-growing companies in its field, Creditinfo facilitates access to finance, through intelligent information, software and analytics solutions.

With more than 30 credit bureaus running today, Creditinfo has the largest global presence in the field of credit risk management, with a significantly greater footprint than competitors. For decades it has provided business information, risk management and credit bureau solutions to some of the largest lenders, governments and central banks globally – all with the aim of increasing financial inclusion and generating economic growth by allowing credit access for SMEs and individuals.

For more information, please visit www.creditinfo.com

Media Contacts:

Matt Silver

Babel PR for Creditinfo Group

Creditinfo@babelpr.com

+44 (0)20 7199 3997