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Credit rating now accessible on mobiles

The service will ease the lending process by cutting the decision making time financial institutions take before advancing a loan/FILE AFP

NAIROBI, Kenya, Jun 4 – Local borrowers will now be able to access their credit scores on their mobile phones, through a new service developed by the Metropol Credit Reference Bureau.

The platform dubbed Crystobol SMS system allows both businesses and individuals to access their credit reports and know their credit standing prior to applying for new loans.

Metropol Managing Director Sam Omukoko said the service will ease the lending process by cutting the decision making time financial institutions take before advancing a loan.

“This is simply a medium of access. Prior to this if borrowers would want to get their credit report they would have to come to our offices. Now, once they register they can go to the system and pull out their credit report,” he explained.

Crystobol gives real time credit status based on payment history with banks, other financial institutions, suppliers of goods and services and utility companies reported to the credit bureau.

The service also includes a subscription based SMS alert solution that provides customers information on activities occurring on their credit report.

Customers have access to one free report, after which subsequent reports are available at Sh500 sent via email, while credit scores will range between Sh200 and Sh300.

Often, financial institutions are not very obliging when it comes to sharing credit information of their customers with their counterparts, which Omukoko said should soon change with the anticipated amendments to the Finance Act 2011.

“Before the Finance Act, banks were only mandated to share negative information. The Act is now going to require them to share all information on your customers,” he said.

In the local market, credit reports are not such a prevalent resource of information and for those that do exist; the details are not inclusive of borrowing history from non-traditional lenders such as Micro Financial Institutions (MFI) or Saccos.

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“Until Saccos are allowed to share credit information through a provision in the Sacco Act, the Ministry of Cooperative Development & Marketing will have to guide them on how to deal with Non-Performing Loans,” Jared Getenga the Project Manager of the Kenya Credit Information Sharing Initiative (KCISI) said.

The KCISI was established in 2007, by the Kenya Bankers Association (KBA) and the Central Bank of Kenya (CBK), as a Joint Task Force to fast-track the process of establishing a credit information sharing mechanism in the country.

The country’s only two credit reference bureaus came about as a result with CRB Africa Limited in 2010 and Metropol in 2011.

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