CAIRO: With Egypt lagging among the ranks of countries in tracking credit scores, the Egyptian Credit Bureau (iScore) is pushing to establish a more transparent system, looking to the government for more support and the telecom sector for more cooperation.
As the first private credit bureau in Egypt, which compiles credit information from its members and processes the information to issue credit reports, iScore has faced obstacles with the telecom sector over the years.
"The problem we have had is not being able to connect with telecom companies and we want to change that," said Mohamed Refaat, managing director of iScore.
"We want to create more awareness for using credit in Egypt. With the help of the state, we also want to create a law that allows telecom companies to work with us without breaching their privacy laws of revealing customer information,” he said.
Refaat pointed out that iScore has drafted proposals and sent them to the government several times but have yet to receive a response.
When it comes to credit information abilities, Egypt ranked 156 in 2007. After iScore was established in 2008, that ranking rose to 84. Today, Egypt ranks 78.
Still, iScore is working to change by adding new services, pushing for more transparency, while requesting that the government creates a legal system that would facilitate their work.
The bureau currently has 73 members that use iScore services to obtain credit history about their clients, including 41 banks which are members, nine mortgage companies, and the Social Fund for Development.
iScore has credit information on 91,085 small and medium enterprises and 8,532,921 consumers. Overall, the total number of facilities that iScore keeps credit records and scores of is 22,749,254.
In 2011, the bureau added several services which included portfolio reviews of clients, account monitoring, which allows iScore to warn banks about customers with bad credit, as well as MIS reports.
By 2014, iScore expects to have SME rating capabilities, fraud detection, collateral registry, development collection services, credit report web, and an SMS product to alert clients.
Online services offered by iScore are also highly secured, allowing users to obtain information only if they are authorized to do so.
"The information is only available to you or banks that need to view your credit history," said Refaat. "We also respond in five seconds or less."
With a huge SME client base, the credit bureau helps small businesses build a credit history.
"We help SMEs, which are primarily owned by young entrepreneurs, build their credit history and their score. We also evaluate the performance of these SMEs and this helps them obtain credit," Refaat said.
Also, before the startup of an SME, iScore can provide small businesses evaluate their initial study tables and the outlines of the projects.
When it comes to boosting the use of credit in Egyptian society, Egypt’s potential growth in the credit sector is currently at 34 percent.
Refaat proposed that Egypt starts using movable collateral like in the Ukraine, which has taken advantage of this and has surpassed Egypt in its credit ranking abilities.
As the bureau continues to expand their work, they also hope to push for lower borrowing rates for those who have excellent credit history.
"Your rate should be lower, if you have good credit," Refaat said. "When there is transparency, banks can lend more, especially to SMEs."