Traders to add juice to credit bureau market as information providers. Rubis Jamaica among first to sign up
Avia Collinder, Business Reporter
Rubis Energy Jamaica Limited announced via press advertisement Monday that it is now supplying two credit bureaus with information regarding clientele to whom it sells on credit, and would in turn be tapping them for credit reports to guide its business dealings.
Rubis Energy, which purchased the assets of Shell Jamaica nearly two years ago and has 53 gas stations in its network, said its arrangement with CRIF NM Assure Limited and Creditinfo Jamaica Limited began on October 6.
It is the first trader to announce its partnership with local credit bureaus, but Terrence Cooper, CEO of CRIF NM, says that side of the business, which is being facilitated by a recent amendment to the law is expected to lead to more of these arrangements.
The adjustment to the law in August expanded the categories of credit information suppliers, allowing trade manufacturers who provide credit to both share and access credit information.
Cooper says it not only opens up more business for bureaus to sell credit reports to a wider market, but it will also enrich their databases as more information suppliers sign up.
CRIF NM and Creditinfo Jamaica are the only two players in the credit bureau market. A third entrant, Credit Information Services Limited, has been licensed and should be up and running by next August.
Before the summer, information providers included banks, other finance houses and credit unions. The list now includes telecommunication providers, utilities and trade manufacturers.
"If you are selling computers, or doors or what have you, and you now want to facilitate financing arrangements for your customer to purchase your goods, you can access the credit bureau," said Cooper.
In Rubis' case, the petroleum marketing company which supplies a network of dealers, who may be agents or sole proprietors of their gas stations, "will be providing financing for equipment, fuel or whatever is needed. They will be able to get credit reports on those sole proprietors," he said.
For now, CRIF NM is seeing only incremental gains from the expansion of the information provider segment, not unexpectedly since the market just opened up less than three months ago.
The company is projecting a 25 per cent increase in business as more companies sign up.
"I think over time, the breadth and depth of the data we have will improve," said Cooper.
"It will grow our business at least by another 25 per cent. We will not see that right away, but it has made us start to develop strategies to approach this new market segment with the expectation of increased revenue and growth."
Businesses, such as car dealers, who provide financing through an entity that is separate from the dealership, will not be entitled to access and exchange information, "as they provide financing under a separate umbrella", said Cooper.
"In that case they will have to go third party - that is, requesting the consumer himself or herself to get a copy of the report and bring it to them."
A company that would qualify as information provider, he said, would be a technology firm that sells PBX "and which now wants to provide a financing system to sell."
The credit bureaus offer two types of credit reports - one for individuals and one for companies, which will include sole proprietors.
CRIF NM's database for companies is in its formative stages but is expected to grow as record-keeping patterns change.
"Trade manufacturers have not been traditionally keeping credit data like banks, but we see that changing. Even in speaking to Rubis, they will start keeping records of payment history," said Cooper.
"It's a long-term project to enhance the database and get a better and more well-rounded view of credit history" for both companies and individuals, he said.