Higher NPLs experienced by financial institutions not using credit reports

West Africa Monetary Union Credit Bureau – Creditinfo West Africa

The single credit bureau (Creditinfo West Africa (Creditinfo)) that spans the single monetary union regulated by La Banque Centrale des États de l’Afrique de l’Ouest (BCEAO) has released evidence that the credit decisions of lenders is changing to be take into consideration the previous lending history of borrowers.

Creditinfo has been running the credit bureau for nearly ten years, initially much focus was to gather the correct information from Banks and Microfinance (MFI) lenders across the 8 countries of the union.  Then followed the educational process of explaining how to understand and interpret the information so enabling improved risk decisions for granting credit.

The reporting is now showing real benefits; NPL (non-performing loan) rates where the credit bureau was not interrogated and no credit report was taken are seen as as much as four times higher than where a credit report was taken as part of the credit assessment.

This huge difference can be attributed to the fact that when lenders take a credit report from Creditinfo they adjust their decision when they see the information in the report.  If a request for a loan comes from a customer who has poor payment performance with another lender, or they have a low credit score then that request for a loan may be declined, or at least the loan amount the institution is willing to lend will be reduced considerably.  This information can only be known by the lenders that take a credit report as part of eth decision process.

More and more lenders across the region are systematically taking credit reports for all credit decisions, Creditinfo has seen the number of credit reports increasingly aligned to the number of credit decisions.  However, there are still some lenders that have not systematically built in the automated process of system to system credit report requests, so even if it is the policy of the lender to always take a credit report they are dependent on individual underwriters to implement the policy.  In this case the lender risks higher losses than their competitors.  Automation and digitalisation also brings with it the opportunity to better use credit scoring and decision engines to drive further efficiencies and improve the customer experience.

Creditinfo West Africa is experiencing an increase in financial institutions going through a digital transformation in loan granting, linking to the credit bureau via an API, and then making the assessment with a decision engine, such as the hosted solution provided by Creditinfo.

There is also related benefits to this improvement in NPLs when credit reports are taken.  With greater control of losses lenders will increase the number of loans granted, reduce the need for guarantors or collateral and broaden the access to credit.  Furthermore, the lower risk environment will attract new lenders, or lenders to increase they range of credit products which increases competition.


Paul Randall & Margarita Faizutdinova

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