The Icelandic credit bureau CreditInfo has won a contract with the Central Bank of West African States (BCEAO) to manage a regional private credit reporting system, the Private Credit Bureau (PCB), collecting and mediating financial information within the West African Economic And Monetary Union (UEMOA). The Union’s member-countries are Benin, Burkina Faso, Guinea-Bissau, the Ivory Coast, Mali, Niger, Senegal and Togo, with a total population of over 100 million people.
A news release released by CreditInfo VoLo, signed by M. Muhammad M. Jagana, claims that the “strategic infrastructure will not only accelerate the credit development in the region, but also will be a new pulse factor in the growth of the economy as a whole.”
The news release also quotes M. Tiémoko Meyliet KONE, governor of the BCEAO, stating that “the risk assessment on customers … will be improved to better identify the borrowers’ profiles”. CreditInfo CEO Reynir Grétarsson says that the company’s main objective is “to remove barriers on accessing to funding and credit”, and that such access “would be a catalyst for economic growth and development of the middle class in any economy.”
CreditInfo was established in 2003, on the basis of what is now its Icelandic branch, Lánstraust, operating since 1997. Lánstraust’s acquisition of Upplýsingaþjónustan in 1998 reportedly eliminated all competition in Iceland. In 2004, CreditInfo acquired the media monitoring service Fjölmiðlavaktin, adding extensive media analysis to its information gathering.
At least since that acqusition, CreditInfo combines the collection and purchase of information on the financial situation of people and firms, “consumer credit reports”, with other sorts of information gathering, such as media coverage, supreme court rulings, annual reports and more, for “decision analytics and risk management”.
According to the company’s portfolio, it concentrates on emerging markets. It is, for example, considered “a leading subejct in establishing credit bureaus across the Caribbean”. A CreditInfo branch opened in Jamaica in 2012. The company signed an agreement to provide software to the Central Bank of Afghanistan in 2013. Since that year, the company is also licensed to operate in Azerbaijan.
World Bank experts took part in the BCEAO’s tender and decision-making process. Interviewed by Vísir, CEO Reynir Grétarsson said that 100 countries in the world still lack credit management, and that Creditinfo aims to establish operations in one third of those.