The importance of Credit Bureaus
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The importance of Credit Bureaus Stefano Stoppani IFC – Credit Bureau Advisor. Defining Credit Bureaus.

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The importance of Credit Bureaus

Stefano Stoppani

IFC – Credit Bureau Advisor

Defining Credit Bureaus

  • Credit Bureaus (or credit reference agencies or credit registries) are organizations that collect, process and provide public record data, socio-demographic information, credit transactions and payment histories of borrowers (consumers and businesses).

  • The primary proposition of the Credit Bureau is the aggregation of information from multiple sources to form a more complete and accurate view of the borrower that is more reliable for informed decision making than the information that the single lender may have.

  • The information can either be positive or negative and is used by lenders to determine the relative risk level of existing and potential borrowers.

  • Although CBs provide information to support the credit decision making process, they in themselves DO NOT make credit decisions.

1. Personal information

name, current/previous addresses, tel. number, Personal identification number, date of birth and current and previous employers.

For businesses, some additional information will include identity of key stakeholders including shareholders and management personnel, etc.

Information provided

The basic credit report is a standard document that contains details about financial behavior and identification information of an individual or business. A typical credit report includes 4 types of information:

2. Public information

  • including bankruptcy information, unpaid utility bills/cheques and other public record.

3. Credit information

  • Number & type of credits, date opened, credit limit/loan amount, credit status (performing, past due, delinquent etc), n. of days/amounts past due etc.

4. Credit histories’ requests

  • identification of all inquiries made on the credit history of an individual, business or corporate entity and the date of such request.

Information provided (2)

Credit reports typically do not contain – religious preference, medical history, personal lifestyle, political preference, friends, criminal record or any other information unrelated to credit. Nor is there information about other banking transactions such as deposit accounts.

Credit Bureau

Know-how /Software suppliers

Subscribers (Lenders)



Data Protection Bodies

Credit Bureau Operator

Public Registry Data

Hardware Suppliers

Private Data Suppliers

Other Vendors & Service Providers

Telecommunication Service Providers

The CB environment

The Credit Bureau requires collaboration between the bureau operator and other key actors:







Quality of PCB

  • World Bank rates credit bureaus’ quality on a 6 factors index

  • A score of 1 point is given to each factor

  • In 2004 only 14 nations out of 120 got the maximum score (6)

  • Guarantee consumer’s right to inspect their data and amend it

  • Contain data on all loans

  • Contain five or more years of historical data preserved

  • Contain data from financial institutions and others (retailers, utilities)

  • Contain data on both individuals and firms

  • Contain both positive and negative information

Classification of credit bureaus
Classification of Credit Bureaus

Types of


“Positive& Negative”



Sources ofInformation


(information shared by banks, MFIs, retailers, NBFIs, mobile operators)


(e.g. US, UK, Italy)

Lower predictiveness

(e.g. Australia)


(e.g. information shared among banks only or retail only)

Lower predictiveness

(e.g. Poland, Czech Republic)

Lowest predictiveness

(e.g. Korea, Morocco)

Broader information sharing expands credit

11% increase in access

Broader information sharing expands credit

Percent of Applicants who Obtain a Loan

90% increase in access

Out of 100.000 Applicants 35.000 potential good customers are lost if assessment is based on negative info only.

Source: Barron and Staten (2003). Note: Figure shows the simulated credit availability assuming a target default rate of 3%

Broader information sharing decreases loan losses
Broader information sharing decreases loan losses

Percent Decrease in Default Rate

38% decrease

in default rate

43% decrease

in default rate

Source: Barron and Staten (2003). Note: Figure shows the simulated credit defaults assuming an acceptance rate of 60%

More information sharing =

more credit, higher growth

  • A WB analysis of credit markets, over the last 25 years shows that:

    • Broader info sharing & stringent bankruptcy rights expand credit and reduce Non Performing Loans

    • SME are 40% more likely to get a bank loan in countries with credit registries

    • Loans are cheaper

    • Ratings of financial systems are higher

    • Increasing the quality/reach of information sharing is strictly associated with GDP growth

Source: Doing Business in 2005

Benefits and Impacts of CBs

  • Lenders are better able to objectively price for risk resulting in more appropriate interest rates that reflect the risk inherent in individual credit exposures.

  • Borrowers with good credit histories (“reputation collateral”) can borrow to more equitable limits, and receive lower interest rates. They also have improved access to a wider range of credit products.

  • “Serial borrowers” – who are contributors to significant credit losses through concurrent exposures to more than one lender – are prevented from obtaining further credit with ease

  • A healthy credit culture is created as borrowers become aware that the market rewards and sanctions them based on credit behaviour.

  • The development of non-cash payment options (cheques, cards) become more attractive.

  • There is increased access to credit for a larger segment of the population, thus improving general standards of living, encouraging investment and stimulating economic growth.

  • Beneficiaries of CBs include all sectors of the economy, both private and public, and in recognition of their relevance in economic growth, the WB/IFC are promoting and facilitating the development of efficient and best practice Credit Bureau services in developing countries.

Oecd countries positive vs negative reporting
OECD CountriesPositive vs. Negative Reporting

Europe and central asia positive vs negative reporting
Europe and Central AsiaPositive vs. Negative Reporting