FICA compliance made easy

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SA’s leading data bureau gives businesses the key to pain-free compliance.

Although the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) came into effect almost a decade and a half ago, it is as relevant today as the day it was conceived.

Instituted in 2003 to curb financial crimes, such as money laundering, tax evasion, and terrorist financing activities, FICA is a law that all financial institutions need to comply with. This includes any business that provides credit facilities in any form – whether assets like houses and cars, or retail items like mobile phone contracts and appliance/clothing accounts – or cash in the form of loans.

FICA basically makes it incumbent on all aforementioned financial services companies to reassess their entire client list, in order to ensure that all clients’ identities and finances can be verified. Think of it as a sweeping credit check of every person in an existing database – it is a means of identifying any individual who could potentially pose a threat to your company.

As with any law governing how businesses handle customer identification and verification processes, and how they manage records, FICA is multifaceted, and comes with severe penalties for businesses that are non-compliant.

Pain-free compliance

But, as daunting as this may sound, it does not need to be – nor does FICA compliance need to be another headache you have to deal with as a credit providing company.

South Africa’s leading data bureau, pbVerify, offers a range of services to make your path as a business striving for FICA compliance as straight as possible.

A division of pbDigital, under Customer Communications firm PBSA, pbVerify is essentially a credit risk management tool for any size business in South Africa that grants credit accounts and payment terms to other businesses and/or to South African consumers.

pbVerify’s online web-based tools help companies assess credit risk by evaluating the credit history of any business and its principles and/or any consumer a company wishes to grant credit terms to. This is done via multiple credit bureaus and other business critical data providers, through one easy-to-use website.

Included in pbVerify’s suite of services, are the following consumer credit check products, which offer your business a painless means of becoming FICA compliant:

Consumer traces for address validation: facilitated by three of South Africa’s main data credit bureaus – XDS, TransUnion and Compuscan – pbVerify’s consumer trace service gives you access to consumers’ latest  contact information.

Bank account verification: pbVerify’s Bank Account Verification Service allows you to efficiently verify the bank details of a consumer, and determine the status of their account – whether the account is currently active, open or closed and whether it has been open for more than three months. The service is available for the 5 major banks in South Africa only.

CIPC Company & Director Verification: pbVerify’s CIPC Company Search Report – one of the most advanced CIPC search tools in South Africa – allows customers to easily retrieve and verify all registration information related to any registered South African business and its principles. Complementing this search too, is the CIPC Director Search Report.

ID Verification: The pbVerify Home Affairs ID Verification tool is used to determine the correct identity information on South African citizens. (This validates the consumer’s identification, but does not confirm whether or not they are credit active)

Alongside this, pbVerify’s ID verification API is used by various corporations, retailers, telecommunications companies, online service providers and system integrators to instantly verify identities for an range of different functions, including customer identification at point of sale, fraud prevention, online transaction verification, customer relations, human resource software and more.

pbVerify Bank Code Update gives added assurance

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bank code update2For absolute assuredness around credit risk, complete your business credit report with a bank code update.

As a business striving for problem-free, profitable dealings with customers, you know how important complete, accurate and up-to-date credit information is, and you will want to leave no stone unturned when it comes to assessing creditworthiness.

As South Africa’s leading credit bureau, pbVerify provides you with all the products you as a business need, to guarantee sound commercial transactions – including a Bank Code Update service to round off business credit reports.

Complementing pbVerify’s recently launched XDS Business Credit Report, is our commercial bank code update service – also provided by XDS – that allows you to acquire an up-to-date bank code from any listed South African bank.

Bank codes are critical when it comes to assessing the credit limits and creditworthiness of potential customers. Before extending credit to any business, request a Bank Code Update on the pbVerify system to the value of credit you are considering.

In a nutshell, this is how it works: After you have submitted the required information, pbVerify’s Bank Code Update service makes contact with the customer in question’s bank, and requests the latest bank code against the desired Rand value. The return bank report is kept in your pvVerify account and can be retrieved any time after it is received.

What is a Bank Code?

A bank code is essentially a code provided by a bank on the company in question’s account, representing how good the company is for the amount of credit it is applying for. This is an investigation report that takes 24 hours.

As the business looking into a company as a potential customer, you are required to enter the company’s bank details (bank name, branch, account number) and the terms of the enquiry. For example, if the company in question signed a credit agreement of R10 000 for 12 months. The terms would then be R10 000 at 30 days over 12 months.

Below are the possible bank codes pbVerify’s Bank Code Update service could return:

A = Undoubted for the amount of your enquiry

B = Good for the amount of your enquiry

C = Good for the amount quoted if strictly in the way of business

D = Fairtrade risk for the amount of your enquiry

E = Figures considered too high

F = Financial Position Unknown

G = Paper occasionally dishonoured

H = Paper frequently dishonoured

Bank Code Update is a standard feature within the pbVerify system and is also available to third-party integrators via an API.

Please note:

  • Before requesting a bank code, businesses need to ensure that the company registration number matches that associated with their bank account.
  • It takes 24 hours from the time of enquiry for a bank code to be returned to the business enquiring.
  • This product is only available for companies – a bank code cannot be requested for an individual.

pbVerify launches new business report

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business credit reportSA’s leading data bureau has added a new B2B product to its extensive suite of credit risk management products.

SA’s leading data bureau, pbVerify, has just launched a new product to complement its existing B2B suite – the XDS Business Credit Report.

The new product will furnish businesses looking to draw business credit reports with instant insight into the existing status of any company that is registered with the Companies and Intellectual Property Commission (CIPC).

XDS is one of South Africa’s leading credit bureaus and, while pbverify has been an XDS partner for many years and offered a range of consumer verification products, the new XDS report is the first business product to be launched on the pbVerify website.

A comprehensive overview and statement of the credit status of any company being researched for credit worthiness, the XDS Business Credit Report is competitively priced and offers all the information (on both the company and its directors) a business requires to make sound commercial decisions.

The information offered in the XDS Business Credit Report also helps businesses prevent fraud by exposing whether any prior legal action has been taken against the company in question. It also gives businesses assurance that the Business and Principal information the company in question has provided, is 100% legitimate.

Below is just some of the information businesses can expect to garner from pbVerify’s new Business Credit Report from XDS:

  • Company CIPC status and information
  • Commercial credit score (with indicator)
  • Auditor information
  • Active director information
  • Business contact information
  • Business banking details
  • Bank Code history information
  • Commercial adverse information (judgements, defaults, etc)

Note: When drawing a business credit report, consent will always be required in terms of the National Credit Act (NCA) and its Prescribed Purposes. Read more about this here.

Consumer credit checks and the NCA

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Consumer credit checks

Businesses need to provide reasons for drawing consumer credit reports, in terms of the National Credit Act. 

If you are a credit provider of any kind, it is inevitable that you will frequently have to dig into the financial history of potential debtors.

pbVerify offers a range of Business to Consumer (B2C) credit check services*, which help businesses make better business credit decisions when assessing new debtors. As SA’s leading data bureau, we know that the better the information you have on your potential customers, the better your decisions will ultimately be.

At the same time, you need to be aware that the rights of the credit-seeking consumer are clearly enshrined in legislation, in particular the National Credit Act (NCA) No. 34 of 2005, and the onus is on you to make sure you comply.

Yes, as a credit grantor following good business practice, you have the basis for an enquiry into a potential debtor’s financial history (i.e. via a credit report) – but a consumer’s credit report is confidential and may not be accessed without legal grounds, or the consumer’s explicit permission.

These “legal grounds” are laid out in the NCA, in the form of prescribed purposes (the Act requires that you specify the reason you are drawing a credit report).

In this article, we will outline the rationale behind the NCA, and list some of the prescribed purposes it incorporates.

The purpose of the NCA

South Africa’s population consists mainly of lower LSM (Living Standards Measure) individuals with limited to no access to credit channels.

According to the Banking Association of South Africa, the complex nature of credit agreements has left many of the country’s consumers vulnerable and often exploited by credit providers.

“This led to the establishment of the NCA [which includes] mechanisms to protect consumers against unscrupulous lending and over-indebtedness.”

The NCA seeks to “promote and advance the social and economic welfare of South Africans, promote a fair, transparent, competitive, sustainable, responsible, efficient, effective and accessible credit market and industry, and to protect consumers.”

The association lists credit providers as banks, micro-lenders, retailers (e.g. furniture and clothing stores) and “all businesses, companies, close corporations, partnerships and individuals who do business on credit, provide loans or charge interest on overdue accounts; and who offer credit within the prescribed threshold values in terms of the [NCA] Act”.

Consumers, says the association, include both individuals (natural persons) and “certain juristic persons [e.g. companies, close corporations, trusts (with more than three individual trustees), partnerships and an association of persons] whose asset value or annual turnover, together with the combined asset value or annual turnover of all related juristic persons, at the time the agreement is made, equals or exceeds the threshold value of R1 million”.

Prescribed purposes

A credit bureau may issue you with a consumer’s credit report in terms of the NCA, under a number of prescribed purposes – including, but not limited to:

  • Account Management
  • Affordability Assessment
  • Alternative dispute resolution
  • Book Assessment
  • Consumer Enquiry
  • Credit Assessment
  • Credit Limit
  • Credit Ombud Enquiry
  • Tracing (non-credit provider
  • Debt Review
  • Education / Employment
  • Employment
  • Fraud Investigation
  • Fraud Prevention
  • Insurance Application
  • Marketing Services
  • Other Legislation
  • On consumer instruction/consent
  • Score Development
  • Tracing
  • Unclaimed Funds

The above are abbreviated descriptions. For the full description, explanation and NCA references, click HERE.

pbVerify’s B2C credit check suite and is available after registration to any business that grants credit to other businesses or consumers.

 

*pbVerify’s Consumer Credit Check services include the Transunion ITC Credit Check; Compuscan Credit Check; Experian Credit Check; XDS Credit Check; pbVerify Credit Check; and our recently added Express Credit Score product (See related blog here).

 

REFERENCES

  1. National Credit Act 34 (2005)
  2. The Banking Association of South Africa website
  3. IOL – Who may see your credit report?
  4. pbVerify blog – Credit vetting: an essential key to SME success
  5. Compuscan’s “Prescribed purposes for access to consumer data” guide

Want financial freedom? Know your credit status

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have-you-pulled-your-credit-report-yetDespite the country’s robust credit information industry, most South Africans do not know what their credit profile actually looks like.

It’s an all-too-common scene: you apply for an account at a retail store, and are taken aback when your application is declined on the grounds of bad credit. As far as you know, you’re the poster child for sound financial management – so what went wrong? Most likely, “as far as you know” is not far enough.

Sadly, even though South Africa has an incredibly strong credit information industry, many citizens are in the dark when it comes to what their credit profile actually looks like.

Earlier this month, local news site News24 cited African Bank executive Alfred Ramosedi as saying that many South Africans were “surprisingly unaware of the importance of a good credit profile”. What’s more, he said, many didn’t even know what a credit profile was – and in instances where they did know, they rarely checked their own personal credit profile.

And yet, the importance of managing your credit status – a task that begins with knowing your credit status – cannot be downplayed in today’s volatile economic climate. As Ramosedi rightly points out, many potential employers nowadays look at job applicants’ credit reports as a means of judging character and level of responsibility.

South Africa’s leading property website, Property24, lists bad credit records as the number one reason banks reject home loan applications, while car finance giant Carfin says the first thing you need to do if you’ve been declined for finance is “Find out why” – i.e. check your credit report. Step number two, says Carfin, is to improve your credit score.

No excuse

 The Credit Bureau Association points out that every single credit-active person in South Africa has a credit profile that shows how they manage their debts and accounts.

Fortunately, if you are a South African who wants to do the smart thing and familiarise yourself with your credit profile, you don’t have to climb any mountains to do so. On the contrary, our country’s credit information industry makes the process next to effortless for you. So much so, that there is really no excuse for not knowing your credit status.

On a scale of 0 to 8, South Africa ranks 7 on the World Bank’s Depth of Credit Information Index – a measure of the availability of credit information, where 8 is the highest level attainable by any country.

Additionally, according to the National Credit Act, every consumer has the right to one free credit report once in a 12-month period from the country’s main credit bureaus, namely TransUnion (formerly ITC), Experian, XDS and Compuscan.

A credit report is basically a comprehensive statement outlining your financial history and standing. It comprises information on your spending and borrowing patterns, how well you meet your financial obligations, general spending and payment trends and contact details. It also lists any judgment you may have against you, as well as any money owed to creditors.

MYpbVerify* – the most versatile personal credit check service on the Net – offers you this and more. The tool not only gives you instant online access to your personal credit report, it also allows you to customise your report with variable information.

MYpbVerify offers various pricing options to suit your needs. Depending on your status and credit history, you can choose either a Basic credit report, or a more advanced (Standard or Premium) report. The latter option includes directorship information, deeds data (properties owned), your personal Compuscan credit rating score and more.

This year, do yourself a great favour – get to know your credit status and start building a good credit profile today. Not only will you never have to fret about being turned down when applying for credit again, you will also be able to take advantage of the better repayment  terms that come with having a strong credit report.

*MYpbVerify™ is an online credit check system designed for consumers in need of quality personal credit check reports. The product offers three different credit reports, all instantly sent via email in PDF format once an order is completed. 

[REFERENCES]        

News24 – Ways to take control of credit

The Credit Bureau Association – http://www.cba.co.za/

The World Bank – Depth of Credit Information Index

Property24 – Why banks reject your home loan

Carfin – Have you been declined for vehicle finance?

 

pbVerify introduces Deeds Multi-search

house-deeds-search

The new feature saves users a considerable amount of time and money.

South Africa’s number one data bureau, pbVerify, has updated its Deeds Search tool with a new multi-search feature that will save users time and money, as well as eliminate oversights.

Deeds Multi-search allows users to conduct a Deeds Person Search or a Deeds Property Search across all ten of South Africa’s Deeds Office regions*, in one go, using either an ID number or company registration number. The result is a report showing nationwide deeds data of a person or company, including the subject’s relevant information and historic property information.

Not only does Deeds Multi-search reduce the cost of garnering comprehensive deeds data (R165, as opposed to R250 for a one-by-one search), it also considerably speeds up the process and removes the possibility of oversights due to incorrectly entered data.

The latest addition comes after a refurbishment and relaunch of pbVerify’s Deeds Search tool in November last year.

The new, improved version enables live lookups at the Deeds Offices, ensuring fast, accurate and up-to-date data.

* South Africa’s Deeds Offices Comprise Pretoria, Bloemfontein, Kimberley, Pietermaritzburg, Vryburg, Johannesburg, Cape Town, King William’s Town, Umtata and Mpumalanga.

pbVerify introduces Express Credit Score

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SA’s number one data bureau has added a new, express credit check product to its B2C suite.

pbVerify has just expanded its Consumer Credit Check product suite with a new service that enables businesses to draw an express credit report in seconds, at less than half the cost of the full report.

Introduced in mid-November, pbVerify’s Express Credit Score enables businesses to view a condensed report of a consumer’s credit viability, and quickly determine whether or not further data on the consumer in question is necessary.

The service, launched in response to market demand, saves businesses the trouble, time and cost of drawing a full report on every consumer they investigate and allows them to quickly sift through credit candidates for potential clients.

Express Credit Score complements pbVerify’s original Consumer Credit Check, rather than replaces it. The express product offers basic information such as whether a consumer is a High, Low or Minimum risk consumer and – in the case of High Risk – what the main reasons are for the adverse score.

The full Consumer Credit Check report offers information businesses will only need to draw on if the consumer being investigated is deemed a risk, including contact and employment data, all adverse information (judgements, defaults and collections) and an enquiry list.

The full report costs between R35 and R45 (350 to 450 pbVerify credits) per report, while the Express Credit Score costs just R12,50 (125 credits). For a full breakdown of pricing click here.

NB: Businesses wishing to draw a credit report on an individual must have the consumer in question’s signed/written consent.

* pbVerify Express score is a credit bureau score developed in partnership with Compuscan using advanced statistical modelling techniques.