Setback for banks as tender for new credit bureau goes overseas

The Central Bank has chosen Italian credit checker CRIF as the preferred bidder to operate the new central credit register, the Irish Independent understands.

Early last week, the Bank chose the Italian company ahead of rivals including the Irish Credit Bureau (ICB).

The ICB, owned by the major Irish banks as well as credit card providers and credit unions, is the major credit checking agency in this country but is not backed by the State.

The ICB applied for the tender but was notified on December 3 that its bid was unsuccessful.

“ICB accepts the decision by the CBI (Central Bank of Ireland) to award the tender to another bidder,” an ICB spokesman said.

“While ICB notes this outcome the company will continue to provide credit reference services to Irish financial institutions.”

The government committed to set up a new statutory register under the EU-IMF bailout deal. The register is being set up to give lenders accurate and up-to-date information about borrowers’ credit history, and prevent reckless lending.

Lenders will be forced to check the register when borrowers seek loans of more than €2000.

A spokesperson for CRIF said the company had entered the tender competition but had not received any official notification of the outcome.

Last month Finance Minister Michael Noonan said the consumer side of the register is expected to become operational in the middle of 2016, with the commercial side expected to be running by the end of 2017.

Other credit checkers operating here include Experian Ireland and Stubbs Gazette.

Experian Ireland was involved in the process at an early stage but pulled out ahead of making a final submission, the Irish Independent understands.

A spokesperson for the Central Bank declined to comment.

The ‘Sunday Times’ reported yesterday that the Central Bank was seen to favour an international player by requiring interested parties to have revenues of at least €4m.

The ICB cleared this hurdle in recently filed accounts when it posted a turnover of €4.1m for 2013.

Revenues were probbaly higher this year because the ICB reported an increase in credit enquiries by lenders in the early months of the year. The newspaper also reported that CRIF was the likely winner of the tender which is due to be announced before Christmas.

The newspaper said that Fexco had also submitted a bid to win the tender.

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