Thursday, December 11, 2008

Credit Bureau regulation to grow credit in Kenya

The passing of the Credit Reference Bureau regulations earlier this year went largely unnoticed for some inextricable reason. When it comes into force from Feb 2009, it'll allow the setting up and licensing of credit bureaus as well as formalising the mandatory requirement for all credit (loans and overdrafts to you and me) providers in Kenya to share information on borrowers. If used to its full effect, it will help weed out serial borrowers and defaulters i.e. those who borrow from B to pay A and from C to pay B and A. It'll also make it easier for banks to distinguish or classify borrowers via their credit profile and therefore hopefully make competitively loan pricing a reality in Kenya. The end game will be if you as a borrower don't have a credit profile, you'll be charged higher interest rate.

As of now, I am only aware of one strong credit bureau (CRB Africa) which seems to already have been accepted by banks and has had a foothold in Kenya and several other African countries. Ug recently kicked off the process but given its banking industry is some years behind Kenya's, it remains to be seen how useful it'll be.
The other important service which will hopefully grow out of this regulation is credit rating of potentially-listing companies, saccos, local councils and important but not listing companies e.g. Uchumi, RVR, Kenya Pipeline etc.

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