By Kiana Wilburg
Guyana took a momentous step in its financial history with the launching of its first credit bureau- CREDITINFO (GUYANA) Inc. on Friday.
A credit bureau is an organization that collects credit information from lenders and information from other sources on a consumer, analyses it, and uses it to create comprehensive credit reports and other value added services.
This information is then supplied to banks and other institutions in an organized format for specified reasons but with the written permission from the consumer.
The credit report contains biographic information and details of the consumer’s financial obligations and payment history. It may also include a credit score, which is a statistical estimate or number used to indicate the credit worthiness of the consumer to the lender. The number will enable him to assess the rate at which the person’s debt will be repaid.
CreditInfo.Inc is a credit bureau with headquarters in Iceland and bases in several countries. Guyana is now the 60th country to host the information. The local company has a fixed location at Lot 267B New Market Street, Georgetown.
It has been one of the fastest growing organizations in credit risk management since 1997 and is known to be one of the top suppliers in the industry.
The credit bureau was awarded its licence to operate in Guyana on July 15 and was officially handed over to them at the Bank of Guyana by the Governor of the Bank, Lawrence Williams, on August 29.
Williams told media operatives that the credit bureau is an innovation in the financial architecture of Guyana and is expected to contribute significantly to the growth of the economy.
The credit bureau, he said, is a project that grew out of the Financial Sector Assessment Programme (FSAP) of 2005/2006 and the First Economic Summit of 2007. Both the FSAP and the summit suggested the credit bureau amongst a menu of measures to improve access to capital.
He also believes that a deficiency in credit information is a significant contributory factor to the prevailing low level of bank intermediation.
The Central Bank governor noted, too, that attention was drawn to the challenges small- or medium-sized enterprises face with limited or no acceptable collateral. The large section of the population that is unable to access credit due to the absence of reliable credit history.
He said that due to the enactment of the Credit Reporting Act 2010 which came into effect on June 10, 2010, the Bank of Guyana sought to identify the most suitable company for Guyana by first inviting six international credit bureau operators to submit a “Request for Solution.”
The Bank of Guyana received four responses and shortlisted two after they were evaluated by the International Financial Corporation and representatives of the Bank of Guyana.
The governor noted that careful attention was paid to the technical proposal, the information technology solution and the security of data, experience of the service provider, financial strengths and operational flexibility.
CreditInfo.Inc, was subsequently selected, having have met all the requirements of a set criterion.
The credit bureau plays a significant role in the financial markets as it helps to foster more competitive entrepreneurial environments, which in turn, effectively addresses market needs.
The bureau will also have several benefits to financial companies, one of which includes, reducing losses of lenders, or insurance frauds considerably.
Chief Executive Officer of the bureau, Judy Semple-Joseph, explained that the consumer’s consent is also of critical importance.
This publication understands that while the consumer’s privacy is important, it is however, in the best interest to consent to sharing of any required data as it will allow credit providers and other entities to make an informed evaluation of one’s credit worthiness, which in turn only serves to benefit the consumer greatly.
The bureau is also helpful to borrowers since someone with a good credit history will be rewarded.
· If the credit bureau divulges your credit information in contravention of the Act, it would be committing an offence and therefore liable on a summary conviction to a fine of one million dollars.
· Every consumer is entitled to one credit report per year, free of cost. This will enable you to identify the areas in which you need to pay attention to, in order to improve your credit score.
· Your file has to be maintained and regularly updated by the Credit Bureau and stored in a secure manner from any misuse, loss or unauthorized access.
· Your Credit Bureau may refuse to create a file for you if it considers that the information received is inaccurate and may adversely affect your credit.
· All information received by the Credit Bureau, its users and information providers about you are required by law to keep it confidential.
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