Credit reporting systems are essential to creating sound financial infrastructures that facilitate lending and help expand access to credit to a significant share of individuals, microfinance, and small and medium enterprises. Also, they help satisfy lenders' need for accurate, credible information that reduces the risk of lending and the cost of loan losses.
Research indicates that lending is higher and credit risk is lower in countries where lenders share information, regardless of the private or public nature of the information-sharing mechanism. The importance of credit reporting is highlighted by its inclusion in the influential World Bank-IFCs ‘Doing Business Report’. In many emerging market countries, agencies that compile and distribute credit and personal information to lenders are underdeveloped or nonexistent.
Recognizing this gap in information sharing needs, IFC established the Global Credit Bureau Program (GCBP) in 2001 to foster the development of private credit bureaus in emerging markets. In recent years, the Program has gradually expanded its scope beyond private credit bureaus and is also working with public credit registries (PCRs) and on public-private partnerships in credit reporting. To reflect these changes, the Program has been renamed to Global Credit Reporting Program (GCRP).
Since 2001, IFC has been an international leader in the development of credit reporting systems, providing support in over 60 emerging-market countries worldwide. The program has supported the set-up or significant improvement of credit reporting systems in 20 countries (Bosnia, Bulgaria, Romania, Costa Rica, Guatemala, Honduras, China, Nicaragua, Panama, South Africa, Pakistan, Egypt, Morocco, Nigeria, Bangladesh, Ethiopia, Maldives, Tonga, PNG, Lao PDR). GCRP has helped generate 31 million inquiries worth an estimated $6.2 billion in new financing to about 6 million retail and small business clients. In coordination with the World Bank's Doing Business team, the program monitors the credit reporting environment in over 180 countries worldwide.