The Creditinfo group has purchased controlling shares in a company which produces credit reports in Barbados.
Megan Deane, Chief Executive Officer of local subsidiary Creditinfo Jamaica Limited, says parent company Creditinfo International will disclose the identity of the new acquisition on October 17 when the partnership will be officially launched.
The Creditinfo group offers services in credit risk management.
The Barbados venture is Creditinfo's third in the Caribbean. Its Jamaican operation went live earlier this year, and the Guyana bureau will become operational in November, Deane said.
The credit risk-management company is also reviewing other opportunities in the Caribbean and Latin America region, Deane said in an address to the PSOJ Chairman's Club forum on Tuesday.
Jamaica is being used as a launching pad into the region, she said, even while other regional countries are scrutinising the nascent sector here to develop their own systems.
"Guyana has laws similar to Jamaica. St Kitts is looking at our model. Trinidad already has a credit-reporting scheme but not a formal bureau. More than likely, they will be moving to open up that space," said Deane.
"We are right in the mix and we are leading the charge in that area."
The number of bureaus internationally, she said, has grown by 50 per cent between 1990 and 2012, with further rapid growth projected.
In emerging nations, only 25 per cent of the population has access to credit, compared to 90 per cent in developed countries, and of the estimated 445 million SMEs internationally, 78 per cent are estimated to be unbanked, representing a US$2.1 trillion to US$2.5 trillion credit gap, said the Creditinfo Jamaica CEO.
Deane said that Jamaica is considered the Caribbean's largest credit bureau market.
Credinfo group has made a large equity investment in the operation, but is not expecting to turn a profit right away.
"It takes about five years for a credit bureau to be profitable," Deane said.
Jamaican subscribers will pay a monthly fee and also pay every time they pull a credit report.
"With the press of a button", banks and other users will now be cutting the processing time for loans and, further, will be getting actual data needed to assess creditworthiness, instead of letters of reference, she said.