Five years ago Compuscan was selected by the Bank of Uganda to establish a credit reference bureau and biometric identity smart card system. Since then enormous strides have been made in the credit landscape and Uganda has seen credit become a significant contributor to the country’s economic growth.
Compuscan’s biometric identification system implemented in Uganda is the first of its kind to be used by a credit bureau. To create the system, we merged several well-known technologies to create an identity card that could be used at every bank for secure identification and as the key indexing number within the credit bureau. Since its inception we have issued more than 1 million biometric identities with smart cards to Ugandan citizens. Following the successful establishment of the biometric identification system Compuscan has been invited to discuss this innovative success in numerous countries around the world. In addition, the case study of the biometric system in Uganda was published by the International Finance Corporation (IFC) in the 2012 Credit Bureau Knowledge Guide, as an international reference for countries considering how to tackle the issue surrounding the lack of a national identity when establishing a credit bureau.
Compuscan Uganda provides a much needed service in the formal financial sector by collecting information on how people borrow and repay their debt obligations. We reduce the phenomena of multiplicity of borrowing by linking all debt to a common identifier and this assists to prevent consumers obtaining more loans than what they can afford. However, those borrowers that pay well and have good credit records are likely to get easier access to credit. In addition, since our establishment we have also seen loan approval turnaround times getting faster in the country and moving between banks is now also possible. As all the data is stored centrally on the credit bureau the history of good payments can easily be transferred. This all facilitates the credit granting process and makes access to credit easier for consumers.
Recently Compuscan analysed its statistics and determined that there has been a dramatic improvement in the overall state of credit in Uganda. While consumers are demanding more credit, so too lenders are responding by making more credit available. Since the first quarter of 2012 there has been a 51% increase in the number of loans issued in Uganda with the majority of the growth being fuelled by Microfinance Deposit Taking Institutions (MDI’s) and Commercial Banks (CB). Interestingly we are also seeing that women are getting more and better access to credit facilities within the country. Since the first quarter of 2013 we have seen a 300% increase in loans granted to women between the ages of 18 and 25 and a 86% increase in women aged 18 to 35 years. In addition, the youth of Uganda make up a significant portion of borrowers in the country and we have seen a 525% increase in credit issued to individuals younger than 25 in recent months. This is a positive development as this is where the new economic agents will come from and lenders that can nurture these customers can enjoy a profitable future banking relationship with them.
The enhancements to Uganda’s credit information system have not gone unnoticed internationally. In the Wold Bank’s Doing Business Report Uganda’s Global Doing Business Index for the ease of getting credit has seen a significant improvement in recent years. Originally positioned at number 158 in 2008, in only 5 years the country’s rank has jumped to 40th out of 185 countries. In addition, the depth of credit information within the country, previously ranked as 0 on a scale of 0-6, is now ranked at a level 5. This is a higher ranking than Kenya which currently holds the number 12 spot for the ease of getting credit.
This improvement is a significant achievement and a key contributor to this is the achievement of our project along with the strong regulator framework established by the Bank of Uganda.
It has been a long journey and Compuscan is proud to have been a part of the upliftment of the Ugandan credit sector. In addition, we look forward to the country’s future economic development that is sure to occur with the credit bureau strongly embedded in the financial sector.
The team at Compuscan Uganda (Photo by Kennedy Oryema)