In the spring of 2021, the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority authorized Creditinfo Estonia to offer Account Information Service in the Estonian market. In the autumn of 2021, the Estonian Financial Supervision Authority also granted the authorization to provide Account Information Service to the Latvian and Lithuanian markets. This act added to our product portfolio a new, exciting product that benefits our customers in the short and long run. As of today, we have had the Account Information Service in our cross-Baltic product portfolio for two years.
About the Account Information Service
The opportunity to provide Account Information Service emerged when the European Union (EU) Parliament and the EU Council adopted a new directive regulating payment services in the EU internal market on November 25, 2015 (PSD2), which emphasized the expansion of open banking in Europe.
Open Banking refers to provide third-party financial service providers open access to transactional data of bank and financial institution customers, using secure data transmission channels and customer consent.
The Account Information Service is a part of the Open Banking initiative, defined as an online service where the service user (customer) is identified and authenticated via strong identification and authentification means. The service itself means transmitting customer’s bank account data through a secure channel to third party from whom the customer wishes to apply a credit product.
How does Creditinfo provide the Account Information Service?
Using Creditinfo Estonia’s solution, both individuals, which is regulated by the aforementioned payment service directive, and companies can transmit their account information to third parties.
Beside financial sector the possibilities of the Account Information Service can be successfully used in application processes in various sectors. Previously mentioned customer consent is obviously obligatory.
Different sectors that can benefit from account information:
- Public sector companies that provide subsidies to individuals and businesses, where the information in the account details creates significant value when determining subsidies;
- Insurance sector companies, which can use behavioral information from the bank account for determining insurance premiums or simplifying the insurance incident evidence burden;
- Other sectors where value from account information help to create better personalized offers for their products and services.
The strength of our Account Information Service is categorization.
The greatest value of the Account Information Service provided by Creditinfo Estonia comes from categorizing account transactions, which our clients (data recipients) can conveniently use in their business decisions.
Categorization is a solution that can and should be continuously improved over time. Precise and detailed categorization is a top priority for Creditinfo Estonia’s Account Information Service.
The data from the Account Information Service serves also as an input for our Account Information Service Report. The report helps to make more informed business decisions both internally and towards our client’s customers. The report highlights all the key ratios, indicators, “green and red flags” and much more that can be extracted from account information.
The report is designed in a way that can be customized to meet the client’s needs, which make it a tool for everyday business decisions.
More information about the service: https://creditinfo.ee/en/avoid-debts/psd2/
Even if it turns out later in the proceedings that you have behaved correctly, it is in no way reasonable to attract such negative media coverage; as well as experiencing the stress and resource consumption inevitably associated with such procedures. Therefore, it is always wise to prevent problems and look for solutions to mitigate such risks as early as possible, which AS Creditinfo Eesti can always help you with.
However, how are restrictive measures established, who is responsible for the fact that the EU can put someone on its lists at all, and is it inevitable to be on the sanctions lists or is it possible to get out of there somehow? Let’s take a closer look at this process here.
Initiation of sanctions in the European Union
The European Union is an association of independent countries operating on the basis of its founding treaty(s). One of the important principles is that the European Union has a common foreign and security policy, one of the important parts of which is, among other things, the imposition of sanctions in situations where it is desired :
- protect EU values, fundamental interests and security
- keep the peace
- consolidate and support democracy, the rule of law, human rights and the principles of international law
- prevent conflicts and strengthen international security
We have already covered the nature of sanctions and their relevance in relation to the situation in Ukraine in more detail on the Creditinfo channels beforehand, so we would currently only look at the process of how the idea of sanctioning at the EU level results in a mandatory legal act for all persons operating on the territory of the Community.
The creation of legislation necessary for the implementation of sanctions can be viewed at the EU level in three different aspects :
- Legislation to take over UN sanctions is being created
- Legislation is being created to implement UN sanctions in an expanded form
- Legislation to establish autonomous EU sanctions regimes.
The European Foreign Service (institutionally part of the European Union Commission) is responsible for the implementation of EU sanctions policy , whose responsibility is to prepare drafts for establishing or changing sanctions regimes.
Of course, this is done in close cooperation with the member states, for example it is very important to get input regarding the identifying data of sanctioned persons, which information is often available to national specialists, and including it in the legislation establishing the sanction (or its annex) will help to significantly reduce the number of false positive responses arising from the implementation of the legislation in the future.
Since all member states must give their consent to the imposed sanctions, the draft sanctions move to the institution with the member states’ representation, i.e. the Council of the EU. The next instance is therefore the corresponding working group of the Council of the European Union (RELEX) , where the specialists of the member states cooperate to reach an agreement on the text of the legislation.
If agreement is not reached, the agreement will continue in the working group formed by the permanent representatives of the member states at the EU (COREPER) , from there the draft will go to the General Assembly of the Council of the EU (forum of heads of government), where it will be adopted and the text of the legislation will be agreed upon. For mandatory compliance, the legislation will be in the EU gazette after its publication.
Existing EU autonomous sanctions legislation is reviewed regularly, but no less often than once every 12 months.
Since the EU follows the principles of the rule of law (Rule of Law), it is of course also possible for persons under sanctions to get rid of the status of a sanctioned person through legal processes.
There are two main options for this – to publish a motivated statement of wish to this effect directly to the Council of the EU, which will then process the corresponding application and make a decision regarding whether to leave the sanctions list or to remove it from it, or another, more widely used option, to turn to the General Court of the European Union ( General Court of the European Union).
For example, at this point it is perhaps even appropriate to bring up the most talked about decision of recent times about the victory achieved by Violetta Prigozhin, the mother of the late Yevgeni Prigozhin, regarding her delisting .
AS Creditinfo Eesti has continued to take on the concern of providing the necessary support to market participants in the implementation of international sanctions, and we are ready to help with various issues, both with advice and force. We believe that in this way, in cooperation with our customers, we can best contribute to the achievement of the common foreign and security policy goals of the EU.
As shown in a recent analysis of the construction sector conducted by Creditinfo Lietuva, almost a fifth (18%) of construction companies1 are currently on the brink of bankruptcy, while almost a third (31%) are at risk of defaulting on their payments. According to publicly available data2, construction companies, as a whole, exhibit shorter operating histories and offer lower wages compared to other sectors. Financial experts are therefore advising caution when engaging with construction firms.
There are currently 19,167 construction companies in Lithuania, employing almost 108,000 people. The numbers of construction companies and their employees have shown consistent growth since 2020. In 2020, there were 16,144 construction companies with an employee count of nearly 102,000. By 2021, the numbers had risen to 17,171 companies and over 102,000 employees, and at the beginning of 2022, the sector boasted 18,512 companies, employing in excess of 106,000 people.
The average age of a construction company CEO is about 46 years, with a striking 87.5% of these leaders being male. Compared to other sectors, construction companies have a comparatively shorter average lifespan in the market, standing at 10 years, in contrast to the national average of over 13 years.
Despite witnessing among the fastest growth in the current year, salaries for construction workers still lag behind the Lithuanian average. According to data from Sodra, construction worker wages surged by 22% year-on-year in the second quarter, reaching EUR 1,300 before tax (EUR 880 net), while the average earnings of full-time workers across Lithuania rose by 12.3% year-on-year, amounting to EUR 1,980 before tax.
The risk of bankruptcy among construction companies is twice as high as the national average
Currently, 18% of construction firms fall into the high and highest bankruptcy risk categories, compared to 20% at the beginning of this year and 19% at the beginning of 2022. The high and highest risk classes of late payment now account for 31% of construction companies, up from 37% at the beginning of 2023 and 34% at the beginning of last year.
For all companies in Lithuania, excluding the construction sector, 9% of all companies in the country were in the high and highest bankruptcy risk classes at the beginning of 2023, compared to 12% at the beginning of 2022. At the beginning of this year, 17% of all Lithuanian companies belonged to the high and highest risk classes of late payment, with 21% at the beginning of 2022.
“Although the construction sector has experienced a period of growth in recent years, it is particularly sensitive to borrowing conditions, fluctuations in demand and geopolitical changes. During the pandemic, builders experienced a boom in demand – with many people deciding to improve their homes – low energy prices and relatively cheap borrowing. Subsequently, the construction sector encountered a number of challenges stemming from disrupted supply chains and the need to withdraw from cooperation with sanctioned countries,” explains Ekaterina Rojaka, Head of Business Strategy and Development at Creditinfo Lithuania. “In recent months, with the European Central Bank raising its base interest rates, borrowing has become a more costly affair, reducing people’s ability to borrow, and homes built with credit have been slower to sell.”
This year, bankruptcy proceedings were initiated for 136 construction companies
Since 2007, a total of 44,256 construction companies have been declared bankrupt in Lithuania. The highest number of bankruptcies occurred in 2009 (445), 2016 (351) and 2017 (367). Only in 2007 was the number of bankruptcies below 100, with a total of 67. In Lithuania, 163 construction companies faced insolvency in 2020, 131 in 2021 and 237 in 2022. In the first 8 months of this year alone, 136 construction companies in Lithuania have declared bankruptcy.
As of the beginning of September this year, there were 11,512 construction company debts on record, collectively burdened with nearly EUR 90 million in debts, with 962 new debts registered in the first 8 months of the year, according to the credit bureau systems. The average size of a single debt is EUR 7,800.
“When entering into contracts with construction companies, it is advisable to pay more attention to their risk assessment and to clearly negotiate payment terms,” Rojaka commented.
According to data provided to the Centre of Registers, the top 10 construction companies with the highest revenues last year are: YIT Lietuva (EUR 140.6 million), AB Kauno Tiltai (EUR 134.4 million), Conres LT (EUR 100.1 million), Autokausta (EUR 83.2 million), Tetas (EUR 79 million), Staticus (EUR 75.9 million), Merko Statyba (EUR 70.4 million), Žilinskis ir Co (EUR 68.7 million) and INGUS (EUR 63.9 million).
Almost one-fifth (19%) of companies in this sector have not yet submitted their financial statements for 2022.
According to Rojaka, state orders and building modernisation programmes will support the construction sector’s activity in the near future, as demand for real estate slows down. However, falling demand has only a limited impact on the final prices of construction services, as cheaper building materials do not compensate for the sector’s rapidly rising wages, which account for more than a quarter of total construction costs. As a result, construction continues to become more expensive, with a 3.7% year-on-year increase in construction costs in July, with the fastest increase in building repair costs, which rose by 9.2%.
Jekaterina Rojaka, Head of Business Strategy and Development at Creditinfo Lithuania (email@example.com)
Or visit: lt.creditinfo.com/en
1 In this report, construction companies are defined as companies that have publicly declared to the State Data Agency (SDA) the activity codes of Section F (41-43) of NACE2 as the company’s main activity.
2 The data in this press release is based on information publicly provided by the State Enterprise Centre of Registers, SODRA, the State Data Agency (VDA), and other sources.