Bill Chepell | Chicago, Illinois


In 2019, the World Bank issued the Credit Reporting Knowledge Guide which provides comprehensive detail how credit data availability and reporting is changing in the world.  A country’s credit data for each individual and business is sourced from a (A) credit registry and /or a (B) credit bureau.

A) Credit registries comprise loan data furnished by lending banks in a country. In general, they support a country’s Central Bank as supervisor of a country’s financial institutions. While credit bureaus have comprehensive data from financial and nonfinancial sources (e.g. retailers, utilities, credit card companies), credit registries provide data limited by the scope of providers (lending banks only).

B) Credit bureaus are repositories of information on both individuals and small to mid-sized businesses. Globally, they are usually privately owned (61%) or owned by banks or credit card providers (28%). The privately owned credit bureaus with significant international operations include CRIF (Italian based), Creditinfo (Icelandic) as well as D&B and Experian through affiliates or partnerships with local firms.  Ownership by banks or other creditors is a growing trend in emerging markets although experts prefer the privately held model.  They are concerned that bank ownership could prompt potential barriers to entry for other credit service providers or the exclusion of other lenders’ participation by the parent banks/credit card providers.

Lenders and other users pay the credit bureaus for credit reports via a subscription fee.  Historically, credit bureaus were focused on individuals, but this has expanded to businesses as well.  In a recent World Bank survey (2019), 114 of 126 credit bureaus reported having some info on businesses.  Yet, the sources of valuable credit info is limited.  The grid below reflects only 17-28% credit bureaus have critical data such as a company’s tax and income, utility payments, or financial info of the owner.  Keep in mind, these figures are bolstered by the inclusion of credit bureaus of developed countries.  This information is very rare in developing countries.