Creditinfo: “The BIC reform will make it possible to take a big step towards financial inclusion.”

Reform of BICs, impact of inflation on solvency, feedback from the Checkinfo service – an overview with Sidimohamed Abouchikhi, Regional Director for Francophone Africa of Creditinfo Group, and Director of the Board of Directors of Checkinfo.

Finance News Hebdo: In this inflationary context, what assessment do you make of individuals’ and businesses’ insolvency risks?

Sidimohamed Abouchikhi: Inflation first impacted the distribution of loans after the successive increases in the critical rate (+150 bps), partially passed on to the interest rates applied by credit institutions (+53 bps). If we compare the first six months of the year 2023, we see a virtual stagnation in requests for the granting of credit, whereas usually, we have an increase between 5 and 8% (minimum), or even more than the part of individuals. For businesses, the decline in demand is mitigated when government support programs are included. To come back to your question, inflation naturally induces a reduction in purchasing power and impacts payment habits. We see this with the increase in non-payments which is undoubtedly significant but less than that observed internationally. The evolution of unpaid debts in number is more marked among individuals, whereas in terms of outstanding, the majority is among companies. All in all, we are on a return to normative levels of due payments. Not at the same level as 2019, but improving in 2020 and 2021.
FNH: After a long wait, the government has finally adopted the bill dedicated to Credit Information Bureaux. What are the main contributions of this reform?
Sidimohamed: The long-awaited reform of the Credit Information Bureaux (BIC) will allow better control of systemic risks and better accessibility to financing. It will also make it possible to take a big step towards financial inclusion and ensure that the BICs collect other sources of information besides traditional data. This so-called alternative data from major billers, such as telecom operators, water and electricity suppliers, insurance companies and others, will compensate for the lack of historical information on unbanked customers. The availability of this information will allow financing institutions to open up, with less apprehension, to new customers (individuals and VSMEs) who do not have a banking history but justify good payment habits. And this while reducing the use of guarantees. I remind you that of the 53% of the population with a bank account, less than 30% have access to credit. Therefore, this reform aims to widen access to financing for this population outside the circuit.
FNH: What are Creditinfo Group’s priorities in Morocco and West Africa in the short to medium term?
Sidimohamed: With more than 30 active credit bureaus, Creditinfo now has the most robust global presence in this sector. For over 25 years, we’ve provided credit bureau and risk management solutions and trusted business information to some of the world’s largest lenders, governments and central banks. The objective is to increase financial inclusion and generate economic growth by allowing access to credit for SMEs and individuals. Creditinfo is the industry leader in Africa, with a presence in 18 countries. The company which continues to be strengthened with two new acquisitions dating back barely a month, in Uganda and Namibia.
FNH: Checkinfo, Bank Al-Maghrib’s delegate for managing the irregular check centralization service, started its activities in April 2021. What is your experience feedback to date?
Sidimohamed: After two years of activity, and according to the feedback from our users, we can say that Checkinfo has a significant positive impact on their cash flow and the hassles associated with collection. Indeed, it should be known that 84% of the checks checked and posted irregularly come from accounts in prohibited banking. Therefore, these people are already in banking irregularity because of bad checks or other, and continue to issue checks which, of course, will be returned unpaid. Today, Checkinfo allows its users to protect themselves against these frauds. Moreover, the efficiency rate of the service is 99.6%. Also, you should know that out of all the checks that are checked, 13% are irregular.
Article translated in English as first seen on Finance News Hebdo 

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