BRIDGETOWN, Barbados, Thursday July 27, 2017 – The long touted establishment of a credit bureau in Barbados is on track to becoming a reality, but some local interests are not on board with the idea.
On Tuesday, the Barbados Bankers’ Association (BBA), which is spearheading the initiative, revealed that it was in the process of analyzing proposals by two international companies, selected from five, to operate the credit information service.
BBA vice president Ian De Souza told a town hall meeting to solicit feedback from the public that the bureau would ensure Barbados meets “full international standards in terms of how it operates in the credit environment”.
While most participants endorsed the need for a credit bureau, the local Caribbean Credit Bureau (CCB) Limited raised concern that the body would be managed by a foreign company.
While acknowledging that his company received a request for a proposal, CCB co-owner Grady Clarke said it did not respond because the criteria effectively excluded his company.
“First of all, the proposal was for the establishment of a credit bureau. We are a credit bureau that is already established. Why should I submit a proposal when I am already operating a credit bureau and employing people?” he said.
“One of the requirements was that the applicant had to have international experience. We are a local credit bureau. How are we supposed to have international experience?”
Consumer rights advocate Malcolm Gibbs-Taitt also raised concern that the country would lose valuable foreign exchange and jobs would be “exported”.
In response, De Souza made it clear that the international firms were being considered because they readily offered their proposals and they already had operations in other Caribbean countries.
The BBA official, who is also chief executive officer and managing director of Republic Bank, conceded that the country would indeed lose some foreign exchange, but quickly pointed out “that is only one part of the equation”.
“Do not forget that what is going to happen here is that this is a very strong experienced international company that is going to be investing in Barbados. It is not a one-way transaction,” De Souza said.
The top banker assured that the bureau would function independently of commercial banks, as he stressed that both consumers and businesses stood to benefit from the new bureau.
“Barbados, as a result of that investment, its credit infrastructure is going to be strengthened, the financial sector is going to be strengthened and as a result of that strengthening Barbados would be put in a better place in terms of its international ratings.”
“[The Credit Bureau] is an absolute benefit to customers as well because you get to a point where your credit score becomes a thing of importance to you, in that the better your credit score, the better access you have to credit,” he said.