Impacts of Credit Information on Financial Innovation

Jared Getenga, CEO, CIS Kenya

StartUp Magazine had a sit-down with Jared Getenga, CEO of Credit Information Sharing-Kenya. In the following exerpts, he talks about the roles, mandates and functions of CIS Kenya, the innovations around credit information sharing and its impacts on the financial markets and economy at large.

Kindly share a brief history about CIS Kenya?

CIS Kenya started as a joint project between Kenya Bankers Association and Central Bank of Kenya in 2009 to catalyse the implementation of a robust credit information sharing mechanism in Kenya. It was later formally registered in 2013 as an independent organisation with membership across the credit market. Credit bureaus are also our members.

The purpose of our establishment was to enable every individual acquire a credit report and a credit score that defines their status in terms of credit history and credit scores. These reports define who we are in terms of credit so that we can borrow more easily if we have a good credit score.

What are your mandates?

Our mandate is spelled out in our mission and vision:

Our Vision: To be the institution that leads Africa in shaping and transforming the credit markets to achieve sustainable and inclusive growth.

We have done this through conferences and study fellowships from across the continent.

Our Mission: To facilitate generation and use of accurate credit information for the benefit of all participants in the credit market.

We will explain about the mission in the answers to come.

What areas of interest does CIS Kenya cover?

We have championed legal reforms, educated the public,  provided dispute resolution services, carried out research and as a result generated knowledge;  all on credit information sharing. We continue to seek out new ways of improving the variety and quality of data available in the credit bureaus, of note is our involvement in the review of the Data Specification Template Version 4 which has introduced daily sharing of credit information.

Give us an overview of the credit information sharing (CIS) landscape in Kenya?

There are roughly 2500 credit providers consisting of: banks, microfinance banks, saccos, digital credit providers, leasing companies, state lenders, pay-as-you-go/hire purchase merchants etc. all sharing repayment information of their clients to the 3 licensed CRBs: Metropol CRB, TransUnion CRB and Creditinfo CRB. Other public sources of data include company’s registry, registrar of business entities, business and trade licensing authorities, land registries, tax authorities, county government entities, court registries in respect of information on judgments on debts, insolvency or bankruptcy proceedings or winding up orders, registrar of names, registrar of persons or other relevant public bodies.

Alongside the CRB, there are other data aggregators such as PataScore and CredoLab who provide credit scores based on alternative data

What are the impacts of CIS on financial innovation?

Because of CIS, borrowers don’t have to provide collateral in order to get a loan. Your credit bureau profile score acts as a reputational collateral and as a result, loans have been disbursed via phone in seconds. CIS enabled this trust in lending because it proves to the lenders that their borrowers can repay.

Have you faced challenges in the course of running your operations?

–          Negative perceptions about credit bureaus – some people perceive them as blacklists that are intended to punish defaulters

–          People who want to dispute their records find it difficult to challenge lenders who submit erroneous information, some end up going to court, which is expensive an tedious

If so, how have you mitigated them?

Through public awareness campaigns that demonstrate how majority of Kenyans have positive information in the credit bureau. Only a small percentage has negative history.

We established a center for resolving public complaints, referred to as Tatua Center. The Center helps to address customer complaints whenever their credit reports are incorrect. To contact Tatua Center either call +254202652308 or write an email to tatua@tatuacenter.co.ke

What are the emerging trends in CIS?

The rise of consumer protection and data security concerns is on the focus of the industry. We want to access to data but we want to reassure the data subject(the borrower) that we respect their confidentiality. This trend is not going away soon.

 We are also seeing the rise of use of analytics to automate decisioning in lending which is great because scores are arrived at scientifically and with the help of artificial intelligence which speeds upturn around time and ensures accuracy.

The emergence of alternative scores to complement credit bureau information is also being incrementally done. In Kenya, mobile network operators are servicing fintechs with this data to reinforce their risk pricing and thus determine the loan limit of the clients.

Faster decision-making by lenders because they have adequate data to rely on. In addition, lenders are no longer insisting on taking physical securities for smaller loans

More credit providers are joining the mechanism voluntarily, thus enriching the databases and making the scores more reliable.

What are your plans in the foreseeable future?

We have just launched the CIS learning Center to promote the knowledge of credit information sharing amongst credit providers. We plan to invigorate the credit market with the content here, hopefully, this will entrench the use of credit bureau scores in pricing of credit.  We want to use that platform as the go to place for all knowledge on CIS . In it, we have modules on regulation touching on CIS, risk based pricing, collateral registry, customer centricity and much more

We are preparing to undertake a public awareness campaign to clarify the benefits of credit information sharing to consumers of credit. The campaign will be launched towards the end of the year and will last for 12 months

Other pertinent issue?

We welcome you to contact Tatua center if you have any dispute with credit information, both lenders and borrowers are welcome. We provide this service for free to sanitize our data in an efficient and amicable manner. Karibu Tatua

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