Setting the Standard for Financial Empowerment and Informed Decision-Making
March 2015 – Capital Finance International

CRC Credit Bureau Limited was licensed in 2009 by the Central Bank of Nigeria to provide credit information and reporting services in Nigeria. At the time, credit penetration stood at around five percent only, with the bank loans going to only large corporations and high-net-worth individuals. Non-performing loans (NPLs) represented over 30% of the total credit volume while consumer and mortgage credit was virtually non-existent.

Banks were conducting their lending operations in the dark. Meanwhile, borrowers received less than optimal services overall, little to no attention was being paid to risk-based pricing. CRC was established to promote information-sharing in Nigeria’s lending industry. Its mission is “to deliver innovative products and services that enable stakeholders make more informed decisions and build credible profiles that enhance access to the credit strategic growth.”

The company was founded by eleven of the country’s leading financial institutions with support and participation from Dun & Bradstreet – a globally revered firm dedicated to the provision of commercial data. CRC also enlisted the support and services of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) and Accenture with a view to offering world class credit bureau services from day one. CRC boasts of a robust technological backbone, adheres to international best practices, and benefits from over 170 years of experience which Dun & Bradstreet contribute.

With a clear understanding of Nigeria’s financial service industry, CRC’s strategic foray into the market was to engage in live operations with the country’s commercial banks. Today, CRC’s drive for excellence in data quality and the company’s comprehensive industry coverage have been much appreciated by all stakeholders. The company’s operations currently covers 24 states in Nigeria. In its repository, all relevant credit information is held for the benefit of the Nigerian lending industry, including commercial banks, investment banks and discount houses, mortgage banks, microfinance banks, and the special purpose vehicle development banks. Non-bank institutions such as retailers, finance houses, asset management companies, insurance companies, pharmaceutical corporations, cooperative societies, non-bank microfinance institutions, and car dealerships are now all members of the credit bureau.

CRC positions itself as the market leader in Nigeria, driven by operational excellence, product leadership, and customer relations. The leadership position is borne out of a number of factors such as the ownership structure, corporate governance, experienced board and management, technology, robust customer dispute resolution mechanism, and innovation. Though the company started live operations with a single product – the Credit Information Report (CIR) – it currently serves customers with a wide array of products and services such as self-enquiry, portfolio monitoring, batch processing, and data management. In addition, CRC has set up a financial education center to enhance the capacity of Nigerians in the use of credit bureau services in risk management solutions.

The CRC Financial Education Center (CFEC) has been instrumental to the ability of CRC to become a part of Nigeria’s financial infrastructure. The center offers industry-specific training with a view to make credit bureau services in Nigeria both far-reaching and effective. CFEC offers other financial training programmes that are designed to equip participants with the requisite skills needed to meet the challenge of the global economy.

Regarding CRC’s impact, the company’s Managing Director Ahmed Tunde Popoola said, “We have changed the way lending is done, improved access to credit and enhanced credit penetration in Nigeria.” Accurate and reliable data from CRC have awarded lenders an opportunity to reach effective and informed decisions. CRC has also enabled the proactive management of portfolio risk, helped reduce non-performing loans to under five percent, and facilitated debt collection efforts.

According to the 2015 Doing Business Report, Nigeria now ranks 52nd out of 189 countries for access to credit. In 2009, Nigeria ranked 87th out of 108 countries surveyed. Credit penetration has also moved up to over 30%.

CRC looks to the future with a lot of optimism. According to Mr. Tunde Popoola, the company will very soon introduce new products to the country focused on fraud detection, credit scoring, and the ratings of small and medium-sized enterprises. “These products are aimed at further boosting the confidence of our users and enable them access to an even wider array of service. In addition, new segments of the economy would sign up to the use of credit bureau products which will enable us deepen our database and thus help drive business. New client segments we have targeted include telecom service providers, informal lenders, and utility companies.”

he key to CRC’s remarkable success is the company’s experienced management team led by Managing Director and CEO Ahmed Tunde Popoola. Mr. Popoola has around thirty years of experience in both the public and the private sectors of the Nigerian economy. His specialty is in entrepreneurship, finance, and risk management. Together with his team, Mr Popoola has deployed his knowledge and experience to create significant value for all stake holders in the still very young company.