The COVID-19 pandemic has caused a slight delay in the collection of data on Bahamian creditors for CRIF S.p.A., the company establishing The Bahamas’ first credit bureau.
CRIF S.p.A. was targeting early 2021 to complete data collection and start the issuance of credit scores.
CEO of Fidelity Group Gowon Bowe, who was on the selection committee for the credit bureau operators and is still intimately involved, said the pandemic threw a monkey wrench in the process of data collection, which is necessary for analyzing credit scores.
“What it has done is delayed the priority of the information [collection],” he told Guardian Business.
“I think the objective of getting it up and running in the timeline is still front and center. There is just the practical realities that has provided some hurdles in that regard.”
Bowe said data collection is still progressing, but slowly as financial entities have had to prioritize their own company operations during reduced work hours from lockdowns over the past few months.
“It is at the point where more testing is taking place where the data being uploaded,” he said.
“As you can appreciate, financial institutions are the principal contributors, but … during the period of up and down and lockdowns that we’ve been closed, a lot of the time was lost that would have been spent in making sure systems were up.
“So there has been some delay in collecting the data necessary. I don’t think the delay is a deliberate one. That delay is simply, if I have to keep the doors open during a pandemic, commerce is happening but everything is closed down, then my managements’ attention and focus will be on my staff and my customers, not on that.”
The credit bureau was formally launched in January this year when it immediately began compiling data from various financial institutions.
The establishment of a credit bureau is considered to be an important and integral step toward an improved credit culture in The Bahamas and an essential component for the nation’s financial system.