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  • The lobby is being pursued against the need for information on persons, who have no credit history.
  • These include informal and micro and small entrepreneurs.
  • In many instances, telecommunications and utilities companies are “the only repositories of credit history of people.”
The government is being lobbied by the country’s first licensed credit bureau, Creditinfo Jamaica Limited, to sanction the addition of telecommunications and utilities companies to the list of entities designated as credit information providers under the Credit Reporting Act (2010).

Creditinfo’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO), Megan Deane, explained that the lobby is being pursued against the need for information on persons, who have no credit history.

These include informal and micro and small entrepreneurs, who often encounter challenges accessing credit financing due to lack of requisite collateral, and so resort to cash payments for business or personal transactions.

Ms. Deane argued that by virtue of their having no credit history, those are the persons who would not be captured in the database of a credit bureau, as there would be no background information on them for referral by a financial institution.

The Creditinfo CEO, who was speaking at the Private Sector Organization of Jamaica’s (PSOJ) Chairman’s Club breakfast on September 24 at the Jamaica Pegasus hotel, New Kingston, noted that in many instances, telecommunications and utilities companies are “the only repositories of credit history of people.”

She noted that where persons do not have loan obligation, “they have a history” based on their utilisation of services such as telephones or cellular phones, television cable subscription, electricity, or water, which she described as “alternative data”.

“The information in the utility companies, how they (customers) deal with their responsibilities, when they pay…for… services, is considered to be extremely helpful because the data is universal, it’s homogenous, and it’s reliable in most instances. So, therefore, they have history on…how (they) have dealt with (their) financial responsibilities in the past (which) is an indication of how (they) are likely to deal with it in the future,” the CEO explained.

Ms. Deane informed that utilities and telecommunications companies were excluded from the list of credit information providers initially due to public concerns arising over the credibility of the entities’ data, which is deemed to not be totally “clean”.

“We constantly see (and hear) people (lamenting that) their bills are not correct, (that) they are overcharged, and all these kinds of things. The framers of the legislation wanted to ensure that they (entities) clean up their data and are able to pass on (accurate) information to the credit bureau and that is where…the challenge (exists in trying) to ensure that the information from the utilities is reliable,” she stated.

Ms. Deane informed that the Credit Reporting Act places an obligation on the credit bureau to ensure that the data provided is reliable and accurate and assured that Creditinfo is “making sure to work with our credit information providers on the data cleaning” process.

“We are…pushing really hard for the Minister of Finance (and Planning), with the recommendation of the Bank of Jamaica, to add the telecommunications companies and the utility companies as providers of credit information. We have been very consistent with our lobbying to the government, and would ask the private sector organization to join us in this lobbying effort to have the telecommunications companies as a first step, and then the utility companies, brought into the loop,” she urged.

Creditinfo Jamaica Limited is one of two entities which have, to date, been granted credit bureau licences by the Bank of Jamaica (BoJ). The other credit bureau currently in operation is Crif NM Credit Assure.