Saturday, August 13, 2005

CreditRegistry Corporation: Nigeria Credit Service Pioneer

The Nigerian real estate sector got a boost recently from the Development Credit Authority (DCA), a division of the United States Agency for International Development (USAID). The DCA has agreed to issue guarantees to PMIs for local and foreign currency loans. The guarantees will cover up to 90% of the risk in lending to projects in the housing industry by local financial institutions and up to 50% for offshore loans, according to the Nigerian Guardian Newspapers.

Crucial to the DCA’s initiative is the availability of a solid credit bureau service; there is none in existence in Nigeria at the moment. "A high degree of asymmetric information" is one of the reasons banks in less developed countries do not lend more to the private sector, because this creates difficulties in ascertaining borrowers' credit worthiness, according to a USAID report on loan guarantee. This may change soon because Brandthrust Ltd., LRC credit bureau, International Credit Information Bureau (ICIB) Nigeria Limited, Accenture, and CreditRegistry Corporation all seem to have initiated some sort of strategic maneuvering to grab and consolidate stakes in the yet-to-burgeon, but crucial credit service sector of the Nigerian economy. Going by name recognition and market share, Accenture, a global management consulting technology services and outsourcing company, appears to be the most prominent of those mentioned, but for some reasons CreditRegistry Corporation stands out of the pack.

CreditRegistry Corporation seem to be the only one with a visible and innovative action plans that address the difficulties of running a credit bureau service in a developing economy such as Nigeria. CreditRegistry Corporation was founded by Taiwo Ayedun, a former Senior Consultant with Microsoft Corporation. He also a co-founder of IntelliSuite Technologies- an organization serving large some multinational organizations.

According to CreditRegistry:

“…it was critical to understand the specific behavioral characteristics of the market and its weak law enforcement problems in order to create a robust system that would increase lenders’ confidence in the system while simultaneously preventing potential abuse of consumer privacy. The design of CreditRegistry’s modern credit bureau platform meets these objectives handily. In its third version, CreditRegistry’s credit bureau platform has incorporated lessons learnt from three years of pilots, technical evaluations and actual use in Nigeria.”
CreditRegistry’s approach smack of creativity that suggest a deep understanding of emerging markets’ unique situation and the need to use innovative technology to address pertinent issues.

Nigeria like many developing economies lacks national identity numbers, the bedrock of traditional credit bureaus. Here is CreditRegistry statement and solution:
“Traditional credit bureaus rely on National ID numbers to identify customers. Because countries in developing markets do not typically have National ID numbers, traditional credit bureau system are impractical for these markets…CreditRegistry introduces superior solutions based on advanced fingerprint biometrics to securely and positively identify consumers…”
Not only is CreditRegistry's use of biometrics a logical approach to engage emerging markets; it is also a sound technological deterrent to identity-theft.

The company also demonstrates deep thoughtfulness and experience by using a system software that promises to be user friendly: check out what appears like a simple wizard-driven user interface on their brochure!

The primary responsibility of any government is to empower its citizenry. This can be achieved through many means (education, healthcare, security, etc). Also crucial is the provision of an enabling environment for commerce.

Out of all the contenders mentioned above, Accenture, a global multibillion dollar “King Kong” is the fiercest competitor, and it poses a clear and imminent danger to CreditRegistry.
It is imperative that startups like CreditRegistry Corporation are empowered. I hope that the Nigerian government, private sector and investors are indeed keeping their eyes on companies like CreditRegistry, and generally on Nigerians like Taiwo Ayedun.

Update:Sept 7
From Taiwo Ayedun:

"I just wanted to share with you a recent interview that I did with the Nigerian Business Forum

"The interview is on Page 11 of the newsletter and it includes a discussion about CreditRegistry; the newsletter also showcases one of CreditRegistry’s recent ads in the Nigerian media on Page 20."

All the best!