RAM CREDIT INFO: CONNECTING THROUGH INFORMATION



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Dawn Lai, General Manager of RAMCI, tells Money Compass about the role and functions of the agency.

“RAM CREDIT INFO (RAMCI), as a responsible credit reporting agency (CRA), aims to uphold our principles of having reliable and accurate credit information about Malaysian individuals as well as companies and their business affairs for access by the public. RAMCI recognises the void in the market and the unfulfilled demand for professional, reliable credit information and scores on companies, small and medium enterprises and individuals and, therefore, the establishment of RAMCI is able to fulfil the demand. Data integrity is of utmost importance to us.”

“RAMCI operates a credit-information bureau that provides credit information and advanced scores/ratings to business corporations, financial institutions, and legal as well as accounting firms as a basis for credit sales, marketing, financial, purchasing and general management decisions. The objective is to provide comprehensive, updated and credible credit information on the individuals, companies and businesses: for the financial and business communities, RAMCI services help them to shorten the processing time in making credit decisions; for the general public, RAMCI services enhance their access to financing and allow them to benchmark and improve their credit profile.”

Q. Could you give us an overview of the credit information scene in Malaysia?

A: At the present moment, there are public and private credit information bureaus available in Malaysia.  Public credit information bureaus include the CCRIS, or Central Credit Reference Information System, owned by Bank Negara Malaysia – which houses credit information such as repayment records of individuals and corporates on their banking loans or credit facilities, including housing loan, car loan,  credit cards, among other things.  The information is mainly being shared by and accessible to banks and financial institutions.

Among the private credit information bureaus, most players obtain credit information mainly from the public domain such as newspapers, government gazettes, insolvency departments and the Companies Commission of Malaysia. Apart from that, private credit information bureaus also obtain credit information from their customers.

Q: In the market perception, the CRA is only capturing negative information. Is that true?

A: That is not true. RAMCI’s Trade Bureau platform is an independent neutral collaborative platform for industry-specific players to share their customers’ payment behaviour; it can be positive as well as negative. It is based on reciprocity principles and members who want to have access to the information must also share their customers’ payment information.

The RAMCI Trade Bureau platform assists members in managing better their credit risk through information sharing. It comes with a value-added monitoring tool to alert members whenever their customers show any early signs of deterioration in credit standing.

With the sharing of overall neutral information, members of the RAMCI Trade Bureau can have a more holistic view of their customers’ credit standing and, therefore, will be able to make better credit decisions, not just based on negative information.

Q: Besides payment information, is there any other information that the RAMCI is capturing?

A: RAMCI is also capturing litigation information, such as legal suits information from the public domain, official bankruptcy information from the insolvency department, company and business profiles and their financial information from the Companies Commission of Malaysia.

Apart from information given on the home front, with the network from our shareholders and partners, RAMCI also offers credit information on Singaporean individuals and corporates as well as comprehensive credit reports on foreign companies in up to 200 countries, covering all the major continents such as Asia-Pacific, Europe, America, Africa and the Middle East.

Q. How would consumers know the nature of credit information that the RAMCI is obtaining about them?

A: Currently, members of the public can walk in to the RAMCI office to perform a self-check on their own credit report. They can verify and confirm the credit information being reported about them is accurate and up to date. RAMCI has a redress channel to allow consumers or corporates to report and redress any dispute on their credit information. Effective June 1, 2012, RAMCI will launch a consumer web portal, www.MyCreditInfo.com.my, which caters for consumers to conduct a self-check online in the convenience of their own home. The registration is free and consumers will have to submit a copy of their NRIC and one more supporting document, such as telco or utilities bills, for identity authentication. The Self-Enquiry Report is given free to members of the public up to twice a year; from the third report onwards within the same year, there will be a nominal fee of RM10 per report.

RAMCI will also launch the Self-Alert Service (SAS) for ease-of-mind monitoring on any changes in the credit profile accessible at the  RAMCI. The service is available with a nominal fee of RM20 per year. It is important for consumers to retrieve their own Self-Enquiry Report at least once a year. Most people finance their education, property and vehicle purchases with loans. Every day, people use credit facilities provided by financial institutions to finance short-term purchases. These transactions might be captured in our database reflecting their payment behaviour. Potential lenders may use our captured credit information as one of the tools to evaluate applicants’ personal credit standing and application for credit. Retrieval of the individual credit report from time to time is important for consumers to prevent identity theft. Take for example 35-year-old Jimmy who worked as an executive at a local company. He had been paying his credit card bills and housing loan on time and had no outstanding payments with any creditors as far as he knew.  One day, when he sought to apply for a small personal loan with a bank to finance his house renovation, his application was rejected. The bank officer advised him to visit RAMCI to view his credit report. When he did just that, Jimmy was shocked to see that it said he had a default payment with a telco and that the account had since been terminated. He then lodged his dispute with RAMCI that he had never subscribed to the said telco. RAMCI immediately flagged in the report “dispute and report the dispute to the said telco”.  An investigation done by the telco found that it was apparently a fraudulent case of someone using Jimmy’s identity to subscribe to the telco service and defaulting immediately after three months.

Jimmy managed to clear his name and his credit report has since been updated. The bank was given an updated copy by RAMCI and Jimmy’s personal loan subsequently approved. Since then, every half-year, Jimmy will go to the RAMCI office to conduct a self-check to ensure that no one is stealing his identity for fraudulent transactions and to ensure his credit file is always factual and up to date.

 Q. What are RAMCI’s plans and targets to move forward in the coming year?

A: RAMCI has been servicing the financial and business communities for the past many years. As part of plans in 2012, we intend to reach out to the consumer public to create awareness of the role and responsibilities of credit reporting agencies. We endeavour to build a consumer credit landscape in Malaysia that is sustainable and responsible over a long period. This will be done through a consumer credit education outreach programme that promotes and inculcates responsible payment behaviour among the general public. We will launch our consumer portal, MyCreditInfo, this month. Not only will it be an online channel for the general public to obtain their own credit report, it will also serve as our channel to reach out to consumers for credit education as well as personal financial management. We target to reach out to at least 50,000 consumers by the end of 2012 and 500,000 consumers by end-2013.

RAMCI also plans to launch a consumer report with credit scores come 2013. With credit scores, Malaysian consumers will be given a yardstick of measurement for their “credit worthiness”. Credit scores are widely used internally by banks in Malaysia as their internal credit assessment. However, there is a common credit score for the general consumer public. In fact, consumers in many developed economies like the US and the UK can buy their own credit scores to know their credit standing with lenders. Consumers with a high credit score can then demand better lending terms and interest rates. RAMCI will further incorporate in the consumer credit report factors that prevent the credit score from being higher. With that, consumers will learn how to manage better their finances and liabilities.

 Q: How does credit information help your clienteles’ businesses?

A: With one-stop and instant credit information at the click of a button, our clients will find an improvement in the processing and approval time for credit applications.

 Q. What are the innovative products that RAMCI is currently offering?

A: We have an online information portal, namely Credit Track. It is a 24/7 access web-based portal that allows our customers to access information instantly. It consists of not just credit information on Malaysia individuals and business corporations, but also on Singaporean individuals and business corporations. It also provides our customers with easy access to comprehensive credit reports on business corporations in more than 200 countries.

Apart from the online portal, RAMCI also has a pre-emptive monitoring tool, namely Red Alert. The Red Alert service enables users to monitor constantly the credit standing of their existing customers and to be alerted as and when there is any newly discovered adverse information about their customers. It has proven to help many business users save millions of dollars by delivering early alerts at the right time, such as when some business users were in the process of granting further trade credits to their customers who were having financial difficulties. This helps the business users avoid a potential bad debt.

 

RAM CREDIT INFORMATION SDN BHD
No 17-9 & 19-9, 19th Floor The Boulevard Mid Valley City, Lingkaran Syed Putra 59200 Kuala Lumpur

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