Credit bureaus rebut e-toll blacklisting threats

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Etoll picSA’s credit bureaus contradict threats by collection company ETC that non-payment of e-tolls could get road users blacklisted.

Road users need not panic – non-payment of e-toll bills will not get you blacklisted.

This is the firm word from SA’s credit bureaus, in reaction to recent news around e-tolls and default judgments that has sparked a new wave of panic around the government’s embattled highway tolling project.

In a statement last week, the Credit Bureau Association (CBA) stated categorically that road users could not – and would not – be blacklisted for not paying their e-toll bills. “Information relating to e-tolls/SANRAL [SA National Roads Agency Limited] will not be held on the credit bureaus.

“The Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Act, 2013, which amended the South African National Roads Agency Limited and National Roads Act, 1998, specifically excludes the levying and collecting of e-tolls from the provisions of the National Credit Act, 2005 and the Regulations thereto, as amended from time to time (“the NCA”).

“Credit bureaus receive, hold, display and remove consumer information in accordance with the provisions of the NCA and accordingly are not able to hold information which is specifically excluded from the provisions of the NCA.”

The CBA, an industry body representing 9 of the 14 registered credit bureaus within South Africa, further stated that any information relating to e-tolls or SANRAL, which had been “inadvertently” loaded onto a consumer profile, would be removed.

“If any consumer is aware that information relating to e-tolls/SANRAL has been loaded to his/her consumer profile, please contact one of the [listed] credit bureaus to lodge a dispute and this information will be removed.”

The CBA represents Compuscan, Consumer Profile Bureau, Cred-IT Data Risk Management Solutions, Experian, Inoxico, Lexis Nexis Risk Management Services, Tenant Profile Network, TransUnion and Xpert Decision Systems (XDS).

What sparked the panic?

The CBA’s setting straight of the record comes after reports last weekend that a Gauteng motorist had been denied credit after being blacklisted for owing R60 000 in e-toll fees.

According to IOL, at least 25 other e-toll defaulters had also been given default judgments. Default judgments arise when a debtor does not respond or defend a summons they have received, and a default judgment automatically means blacklisting.

Shortly after reports of the shock discovery by the Gauteng consumer, Electronic Toll Collection (ETC) – the body appointed by Sanral to collect e-toll fees – said it had applied to the courts for about 1 400 default judgments against road users who had neglected to pay their e-toll fees, and had ignored court summonses.

According to Eyewitness News, ETC chief executive Coenie Vermaak said that over 15 000 summonses had been sent to court for e-toll users who had not settled their e-toll accounts.

 *To read the law that underpins the CBA’s statement first-hand, click HERE.

 [REFERENCES]  

  1. Credit Bureau Association: Consumer information relating to e-tolls
  2. za – Transport Laws and Related Matters Amendment Act 3 of 2013
  3. Eyewitness news – E-tolls collection company applies for 1400 default judgments for blacklisting
  4. Business Tech – ‘Pay your e-tolls or you will be blacklisted’
  5. IOL – E-tolls blacklist shocker for Gauteng resident

China’s social scoring system takes the idea of credit vetting to another level

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chinasocialcredit

Picture credit: Kevin Hong

Your credit score makes up a significant part of the whole when it comes to your social status – something we at pbVerify value, and use to promote sound decision making.

 

As SA’s leading credit data bureau, pbVerify knows how important it is – for businesses and consumers alike – to be familiar with their credit history, and well aware of their current credit status. There are good reasons for providing access to credit score information, all of which are aimed at promoting financial health and good business decisions.

The same beneficial system, however, has seemingly seen a more sinister twist, with the well-publicised move by the Chinese government to take it to a whole new level – one that instils fear, rather than protecting the people it is in place for.

We all know about social status and, whether we like to admit it or not, it is important to us. Nowadays we use social media platforms like Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Snapchat to project a certain idea about ourselves to the world around us – a feature these platforms refer to as a user’s “Status”.

pbVerify specialises in one of the most influential aspects or “scores” that make up a personal status – your credit score. While most consumers are all too familiar with what a credit score means, the implications of a negative score and the importance of knowing your score, the system the Chinese government plans to implement over the next few years, in which every citizen is tagged with a social score, sounds like the makings of a science fiction novel.

China’s Social Credit System (SCS), whereby the government plans to rank its citizens based on their social credit, is due to be implemented in full by 2020, although its wheels are already well in motion. It basically allocates each citizen a social score card based on – among other things – their credit history, behaviour, philanthropic contributions and even outlook on life and events. The government will garner this information based on citizens’ accounts and network activities.

Going forward, this social credit score will be used to rank citizens and reward – or punish – them accordingly. Some of the implications include travel bans, exclusion from top schools (for kids of parents with low credit scores) and from certain jobs, slow internet connection, exclusion from hotels, and even registration on a public blacklist.

In development for some time already (reportedly conceived around 2014 in its current form) and set in motion in earnest in late 2018, China’s SCS has already seen millions of Chinese citizens prohibited from travelling, with a reported 1.75 million air ticket purchases, and 5.5 million train ticket purchases denied last year.

While China claims its aim with the SCS is to enhance trust and social stability by creating a “culture of sincerity”, most are less optimistic about the system’s ultimate goal, with many referring to it as an Orwellian Dystopia, and calling it “nightmarish”.

The jury is sure to be out on this one for some time, at least as far as the general public goes. If nothing else conclusive for now, it does go to show the weight social scores – or statuses – can hold.

We are all about empowerment

At pbVerify, we pride ourselves in providing a service that is accessible, easy to use – and above all, beneficial to our customers. Our focus is on empowering our customers every step of the way, by imparting knowledge that enables sound, intelligent financial decisions.

We constantly strive to put the power squarely in the hands of local businesses, to enable them to quickly and comprehensively make informed decisions with regard to the customers they onboard.

To this end, we recently bolstered our TransUnion Business Report with Quick Vet 4 Business (QV4B) – an instant online tool that enables credit vetting decisions in a matter of seconds.

Granting credit to new customers does not need to be a long, complicated process. Read HERE for more on how QV4B can speed up your business’s decision making and credit granting processes, giving you more time to attend to the things that matter most.

For more information or to speak to a pbVerify consultant call 010 300 4898 or email support@pbverify.co.za.

[REFERENCES]

  1. Wikipedia – Social credit system
  2. ABC Australia – China uses social credit surveillance system to ban millions from buying plane and train tickets
  3. Opploans – For people with bad credit, China’s ‘Social Credit’ scores sound like an actual nightmare
  4. Wired – Big Data meets Big Brother as China moves to rate its citizens
  5. Wired – The complicated truth about China’s social credit system
  6. pbVerify Blog – pbVerify bolsters credit risk management portfolio
  7. TransUnion – Quick Vet 4 Business

 

pbVerify bolsters risk management portfolio

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pbVerify qv4b pic

SA’s number one data bureau has added a new TransUnion product to help companies eliminate risk when it comes to choosing who they do business with.

As South Africa’s number one data bureau, pbVerify is constantly striving to put the power of knowledge and sound decision making in the hands of local businesses.

To this end, we have bolstered our TransUnion Business Report with Quick Vet 4 Business (QV4B) – an instant online commercial credit vetting tool that will allow businesses to quickly and comprehensively make informed decisions with regard to the customers they onboard.

The new business score gives businesses an accurate overview in one quick view as to what the status of a potential business or customer is, without them having to go through the lengthy process of investigation and manual vetting. Via just one automated online process, businesses can now identify who the profitable and low-risk customers are, and move swiftly forward.

The latest addition forms part of pbVerify’s expansive range of credit risk management products, which come with a top-notch support system. Businesses can access all Credit Bureau products via one secure, efficient online platform.

“This new score is going to make the decision-making process a lot easier and quicker for our customers, and give them total peace of mind that they have made the right credit decision,” says System admin-support manager Sean Bennett.

Seeding success

Understanding and implementing risk management is absolutely crucial when it comes to the success of your business. In today’s volatile financial milieu, no company can afford to enter business deals with businesses that have questionable financial footing.

Unfortunately, too many honest businesses fall prey to dishonest or irresponsible parties that don’t fulfil their end of the business deal, whether it’s failure to repay a loan, defaulting on payments or being dishonest about credit histories, and this ends up hurting profits, productivity and reputation.

pbVerify takes the risk factor out of your business decisions with its risk management tools. And it couldn’t be easier to sign up. After registering for free, you will have instant access to detailed financial information, credit histories, public trace record information and more. There’s no monthly fee – you only pay per search.

pbVerify offers reports on individuals, companies, closed corporations, consumers and properties in South Africa.

For more information or to get in touch with one of our dedicated pbVerify support agents, go to www.pbverify.co.za.

 

pbVerify renews data protection promise

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Blog picSA’s number one data bureau has renewed its status as an official credit bureau, reinforcing customers’ trust in our services.

We are living in the Information Age, and there is an intense air of nervousness and reluctance when it comes to the sharing of personal information. And rightly so – given the proliferation of data breaches and brazen data misuse by marketing companies across the globe.

As SA’s leading data bureau, pbVerify fully understands these concerns and continually takes decisive measures to address them, ensuring our customers’ data remains private and secure at all times.

To this end, pbVerify recently cemented its status as an official credit bureau in terms of Section 43 of the National Credit Amendment Act, 19 of 2014, serving as a stamp of surety and our promise to you, our customer, that your data is safe with us.

In a nutshell, a credit bureau is as company that holds information on credit-active individuals, and uses that data to advise businesses and consumers as to their credit risks associated with a given application or transaction, using complex algorithms.

pbVerify’s status as an official credit bureau, in line with the National Credit Act, validates the fact that we are a professional business, bound by and compliant with all local and international data policy and privacy policy regulation. It also verifies that we have a failsafe disaster recovery system, so both ourselves as a service provider, and our customers, can have total peace of mind when it comes to the protection of the valuable data we deal with.

You can rest assured, your data – including identity data – is secure with us and will stay with us. We will never trade customer information with another company, nor share it for marketing purposes.

pbVerify offers a range of Credit Risk Management and Credit Check products for businesses and consumers.

For more information on pbVerify’s suite of B2B and B2C products click HERE.

To view pbVerify’s NCR Credit Bureau certificate click here: NCRCB343 Certificate – Valid 2018-2019

What is a Credit Bureau?

To manage credit risk and for the sake of general financial health, it is vital that you have a grasp on your credit history. As a consumer, it is important that you understand your credit score and report, as well as the bodies that compile that information, i.e. credit bureaus.

The National Credit Regulator (NCR) describes a credit bureau as “A company that gathers information and updates each consumer’s credit history. A credit bureau creates a record of a consumer’s credit information indicating how the consumer manages his/her credit.

“The credit bureau supplies these records to credit providers, such as banks, retailers and other credit providing companies. The information indicates each consumer’s payment record. It is also used to detect fraud, corruption or theft.”

What rights do I have?

When it comes to the accessing of credit history by a credit provider, you have the right:

  1. To be informed that the credit provider intends to report negative information on you to a credit bureau before the credit provider actually reports you.
  2. To receive a copy of your credit record from a credit bureau when you request it.
  3. To challenge information kept by the credit bureau if you are unhappy with the information.
  4. For your information to be kept confidential, and for your information to be used only for purposes allowed by the National Credit Act.

Click HERE to learn more about credit bureaus and the National Credit Act.

 

REFERENCES 

  1. National Credit Regulator – National Credit Act pamphlet
  2. Fin24 – Five massive data breaches affecting South Africans
  3. Business Live – All your personal information is up for sale to debt counsellors for 55c

Introducing our new self-service support hub for API customers

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API integrationpbVerify has created an API development portal with tools that could help save days in developing time.

In our ongoing quest to optimise business operations, fine-tune digital processes and, ultimately, make our customers’ lives easier, pbVerify has added a developer’s portal for our API customers.

An easy-to-use set of tools for developers, the API Development Portal offers a library of API integration documents and general information, as well as means to test each of the API services we offer.

The new API developer’s portal allows all pbVerify API clients with valid account credentials, to access our user-friendly Swagger interface for all RESTful  Web services.

The main function of the interface is to allow API customers to test the RESTful/JSON services they have access to, giving developers access to online documentation and an instant understanding of how to integrate, and to see the JSON responses and payloads they will get from each  Web service. Using pbVerify’s new Development Portal, customers can now:

  1. Test RESTfull/JSON services live with built-in testing tool per API call.
  2. Import all RESTful/JSON services into postman with pbVerify’s Swagger file.
  3. View all extended Web services documentation.
  4. View Terms and Conditions.
  5. Directly contact Development support.

The face of pbVerify’s  Service-oriented Architecture (SOA) program, the API Development Portal aims to provide a top-class developer experience for our Web services.

NOTE: API tools are currently only available for REST/JSON services. Certain pbVerify products, such as Consumer Credit Check and Bank Code Verification are still in our SOAP service. Documentation for these will need to be obtained from pbVerify’s support service.

Geospatial tech solves FICA, KYC challenges

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geospatial image.PNGpbVerify’s ground-breaking KYC API transforms laborious manual processes into fast, effective and secure verification.

In our ongoing quest to build a digital future based on holistic online solutions to help our clients maximise operational efficiency, pbVerify has developed a Digital KYC API like no other.

Designed for institutions accountable to the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) – specifically its know your customer (KYC) requirements – our Digital KYC API (application programming interface) takes the pain out of the on-boarding process for both accountable institutions, and their customers.

pbVerify’s API transforms an onerous, time-consuming and expensive manual process into a convenient, fast-moving and inexpensive online one.

KYC hurdles

KYC, a risk-based assessment of customers (individuals and businesses), is an integral part of FICA which makes it incumbent on accountable institutions to carry out extensive due diligence on all financial services applicants.

This typically involves a list of documents, including minimum requirements such as proof of residence and proof of identification for individuals; and evidence of shareholding, director information and company history for businesses  (either originals, or sighted by an institution employee).

Steeped in red tape and paper documents, the manual KYC process has long been the bane of institutions and potential customers alike. Not only is it costly and time-consuming, it can be incredibly frustrating, given South Africans’ unique circumstances.

Moonstone, a Stellenbosch-based independent support network for financial service providers, cites residential transience and “an inefficient postal service” as aggravating factors in the KYC process.

API answer

Instead of spending unnecessary time and money trying to acquire the list of documents and physical verification required by FICA’s KYC rules, financial institutions can now – by running pbVerify’s Digital KYC API – get identification and residential verification directly from the HANIS (Home Affairs National Identification System) and SACRRA (South African Credit & Risk Reporting Association) databases, respectively, instantly and online.

Coupled with advanced algorithms, which were built to eliminate all the challenges South African address databases face, this makes pbVerify’s latest solution the most powerful one on the market.

In a nutshell, the KYC API works like this:

  1. Applicant requests an account with a registered credit provider.
  2. Applicant completes the credit provider’s online form, linked to the pbVerify KYC API.
  3. Applicant’s identification information (names and ID number) are instantly verified against the HANIS database.
  4. Applicant’s address (residential information) is verified against the SACRRA database, based on two parameters set by the credit provider, i.e. over what period – 3, 6, 12, 24 or 36 months; and how many address matches required, obtained from other credit providers.
  5. If the Digital KYC API returns the applicant’s address data as matching the database, as per credit provider’s criteria, the system automatically approves the KYC process.
  6. The system sends a response to the compliance department, indicating whether or not the consumer is FICA compliant.

API differentiator

What sets pbVerify’s KYC API apart from other digital KYC verification products on the market, is the advanced method is uses to not only effectively, but to irrefutably verify applicants’ information.

Our API uses geospatial technology, as well as multi-paradigm geodistance algorithms, to determine and compare address data between data received from applicants, and data on file from at least one hundred registered credit providers across South Africa.

Essentially, our technology loops through credit provider data to find similar address matches, within the said specified time parameter (3 to 36 months), within a few metres of the pinned geolocation of the applicant’s input.

One of the biggest challenges in South Africa when it comes to address verification by credit providers, is the fact that many citizens live in townships and townhouse setups, where the address does not conform to the standard street address format.

To overcome this challenge, pbVerify’s algorithm pinpoints the applicant’s address via geospatial location, strips all anomalies and/or conflicting information from the address, and finds other credit providers that have similar address details. Only if these are also within a few metres of the applicant’s original input, will the API accept the address and report the credit provider sources where it was found.

In other words, only if enough data exists to satisfy your unique KYC requirement-settings, will the API return positive results, together with the source of the data matches, e.g. Vodacom, Edgars, FNB Home Loans, etc.

Apart from the immediately evident advantages of replacing manual with digital – primarily time and cost savings – pbVerify’s Digital KYC API underpins POPI (Protection of Personal Information) Act compliance, it adds another dimension in terms of security, and it removes the probability of human error.

 

[REFERENCES]

  1. gov.za – Financial Intelligence Centre Act, 2001 (Act No. 38 OF 2001)
  2. Financial Intelligence Centre – The FIC Act
  3. Financial Intelligence Centre – Frequently asked questions
  4. Moonstone – KYC– Knowing your client or killing your client?
  5. FNB – KYC/FICA information portal
  6. Investec – KYC Requirements

 

Credit providers to proceed with caution

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man-and-women-window-shipping-at-mallCredit-granting companies are urged to continue to carry out stringent checks on prospective lenders, following a recent ruling that relaxes affordability assessment requirements.

While many local retailers have lauded a recent High Court ruling that binned a legal clause requiring lenders to demand payslips and financial statements from credit applicants, the move has been met with raised eyebrows from SA’s credit regulator – which is concerned it may lead to reckless lending.

Indeed now more than ever, in light of the historic ruling, it is worth reiterating how vital it is for credit lending – in whatever form – to be approached with caution. If you are a business owner that deals with individuals or other businesses, the importance of carrying out thorough checks when assessing customers’ credit status cannot be stressed enough.

While it is unquestionably important for businesses to have customers, financially vulnerable customers only spell trouble – both for your company’s bottom line and the customer, who you as a business should be protecting.

Court ruling

On March 16 this year, the Western Cape High Court made a ruling that binned the clause of the National Credit Regulations that, since 2015, had made it compulsory for credit lenders to acquire payslips and financial statements from prospective borrowers before granting credit.

The judgment applies to all forms of credit lending, from store credit to microloans.

Prior to the recent ruling, subsection 23 A(4) of the National Credit Regulations required credit providers to obtain three recent payslips or bank statements as proof of income from applicants who were permanently employed – and three recent documented proofs of income or bank statements from those who did not receive a salary. If the applicant could not provide proof of income, credit providers had to then get three recent bank or financial statements from them (see page 18 of the Government Gazette, 13 March 2015).

While affordability assessments have always been a requirement of the National Credit Act (NCA), prior to the more stringent requirements put in place in 2015, credit providers were allowed to decide on their own means of carrying these out.

This year’s Western Cape High Court ruling – spurred on by applications by Truworths, the Foschini Group and the Mr Price Group – essentially returns the affordability assessment subsection of the NCA back to its former, more moderate, self.

The three retailers brought the case against the Department of Trade and Industry and the National Credit Regulator (NCR) because they claimed the said affordability assessment regulation adversely affected their businesses.

Continue with caution

However, the NCR, which believes an important tool in the fight against reckless lending and borrowing has been removed, is not happy with the ruling, to the extent it is considering an appeal.

The Credit Ombud, meanwhile, has also reportedly greeted the ruling with caution.

News site iol cites NCR company secretary, Lesiba Mashapa, urging credit providers to continue to carry out thorough credit checks despite the ruling: “We appeal to credit providers to continue to apply the income verification standards set by the regulations to protect themselves and consumers from reckless lending and borrowing.”

While the credit regulations in terms of affordability assessments have been significantly relaxed, Section 81 of the NCA, which requires credit providers to take “reasonable steps” to assess consumers’ financial stability before granting credit, remains in force.

Mashapa has urged credit providers to proceed with caution, and continue to carry out stringent credit checks on prospective customers. “[Credit providers] should request consumers to produce proof of income.”

pbVerify offers a range of B2B and B2C Credit Risk Management tools for any size business in South Africa that grants credit. For more information visit our products page HERE

 

[REFERENCES]

  1. Credit Ombud – National Credit Regulations including affordability (Chapter 3: Page 17)
  2. The Department of Justice & Constitutional Development – National Credit Act (Page 114)
  3. Southern African Legal Information Institute – Truworths Limited and Others v Minister of Trade and Industry and Others (4375/2016) [2018] ZAWCHC 41
  4. iol – High Court ruling removes barriers to credit
  5. Business Day – Court ruling leaves credit providers in catch-22 situation