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

Why is it important to credit check prospective customers?

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credit-check-signThe importance of knowing the credit worthiness of new customers cannot be emphasised enough.

It is undeniably important for any business to have customers – whether it be individual consumers, other businesses or suppliers – but it is even more important that the customers you do business with are reliable when it comes to paying you for the services or products you tender.

And, while it may seem counterproductive – even absurd – to turn business away, the value of having quality, paying customers who settle their bills on time, cannot be compared to the value (or lack thereof) of having customers who become a burden because they are constantly defaulting on payments.

The bottom line is, you should never be afraid to turn non-creditworthy customers away because, at the end of the day, it is your company’s bottom line that is on the chopping block.

No business – no matter how big or small – can afford to jeopardise profits. In fact, bad debt and cash flow issues have been positioned as the two main reasons start-ups and small businesses fold.

You also need to be aware that, legally, if you either fail to carry out a credit check or you decide to give a non-creditworthy candidate the green light, you have no recourse down the line should they default on payment and, inevitably, your best option would be to write the debt off.

So, without question, it pays to do your homework. In fact, the advantages of carrying out thorough credit checks go beyond just protecting your profits. The process also allows for intensified sales efforts overall, as these can be confidently spent on the right kind of client, the kind that will add to your income – and not take away from it.

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

pbVerify intros new verification product

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pbVerify Consumer Marriage Status reportSA’s leading data bureau has added the Consumer Marital Status Report to its suite of credit vetting products.

In the name of protecting your organisation and potentially saving it huge amounts of money, it is imperative that you, as a credit-granting facility, carry out thorough credit checks on new customers.

That is why – as part of our ongoing quest to place all the tools our customers need to manage their credit risk at their fingertips – pbVerify has introduced a new credentials verification product – the Consumer Marital Status Report*.

This latest addition, which forms part of pbVerify’s comprehensive Business to Consumer (B2C) and Business to Business (B2B) credit check suite, allows pbVerify users to quickly and accurately verify the names and identity number of any consumer’s spouse.

While the Consumer Marital Status Report comes primarily in response to our clients’ need to authenticate the marital status of an applicant requesting a financial service, it is also a very useful tool for tracing agents, who may need to access spouse details of customers in default.

All the user needs to access the marital details of the applicant in question, is the applicant’s name, surname and 13-digit South African identity number. These details are then checked against Home Affairs data, after which the system returns the marital details, including the applicant’s spouse’s (if any) first name, surname and identity number.

*The Consumer Marital Status Report costs R7.50 – or 75 pbVerify credits – and is available after registration to any business that grants credit to other businesses or consumers.

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

New partnership simplifies company registration process

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company-registration-MalaysiaCompany and domain names can now be registered as one, making it easier for companies looking to manage credit risk to access pbVerify’s full suite of services.      

A recent partnership between three South African agencies, allowing company and domain names to be registered together, has streamlined the process of registering local companies and, in turn, of accessing pbVerify’s suite of verification products.

Earlier this month it was announced that the Companies and Intellectual Properties Commission (CIPC), the ZA Domain Name Authority (ZADNA) and the ZA Central Registry NPC (ZACR) had collaborated to make it possible for new companies to register with the commission and claim a parallel co.za domain name at the same time.

The move will not only give new companies greater control over their intellectual property, it also significantly simplifies the process of acquiring unique online credentials – a requirement for access to many professional services, including pbVerify’s credit vetting products.

Daily online news portal, SME South Africa, cites ZACR CEO Lucky Masilela as saying the three-party agreement enables new enterprises to protect their fledgling online identities. “This innovative offering seamlessly combines the offline and online worlds in a way that provides total convenience and protection for start-ups.”

Credit management services

pbVerify is South Africa’s leading data bureau, offering small-to-medium enterprises (SMEs) and corporates all the information needed in order to make informed, intelligent business decisions to the end of mitigating credit risk.

The easiest way to verify businesses, people and property in South Africa, pbVerify’s suite of credit management services includes business credit checks, CIPC business and director searches, Home Affairs ID verification, SARS advanced VAT verification and bank account verification – among others.

Minimum requirements for companies seeking full access to pbVerify’s services are: a business email address; a business landline number and valid business registration details pertaining to an active business.

Now, thanks to the CIPC, ZADNA and ZACR partnership, companies can quickly and painlessly ensure they are able to tick all the above boxes.

Masilela describes the partnership as a “a fantastic example of domain name space pioneering coupled with out-the-box thinking in the area of public-private partnerships” and says the organisation is looking to launch further services for new enterprises, start-ups and other commercial users in future.Masilela describes the partnership as a “a fantastic example of domain name space pioneering coupled with out-the-box thinking in the area of public-private partnerships” and says the organisation is looking to launch further services for new enterprises, start-ups and other commercial users in future.

For more information on pbVerify’s services call 010 300 4898 or send an email to support@pbverify.co.za.

 

REFERENCE:

SME South Africa – Attention Startups! Company and Domain Names Can Now be Registered Together

 

The future of digital onboarding is here

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An integration between two of pbDigital’s software platforms makes it possible for financial institutions to digitally onboard customers in record time.

A recent integration between SignFlow and pbVerify has created a platform for digitally onboarding customers that is about to change the way credit is granted –in terms of risk management, compliance and convenience.

Although pbVerify has offered digital onboarding – an advanced customer activation product designed for financial institutions – for some time, never has this tool been as powerful as it is now, with the incorporation of SignFlow digital signatures.

Digital onboarding was introduced specifically to A) improve the customer experience by making it easier for them to activate and use financial services products, and B) give financial institutions a more secure and scalable means of growing their business.

That said, it makes no sense for institutions and their customers to have to switch back to manual halfway through the digital process of onboarding, to finalise the process with signatures – the old way of doing things.

Since pbDigital is all about innovation, meet the new way of doing things…

Now, with pbVerify’s integration with SignFlow, you can say goodbye to the expensive and onerous manual methods associated with finalising the process of customer onboarding – printing of forms, signing by hand, scanning, uploading and emailing – and say hello to a new fast and fail-safe system that allows institutions to onboard customers entirely online, in a fraction of the time and at a fraction of the cost.

No longer do red tape and geographical circumstances play a part in how long it takes to finalise the onboarding process. With SignFlow, it is simply a case of sending the completed online form to the designated signatory or signatories for approval – all via a secure, legal online platform. No more physical records, no more running around, no more waiting – and, most importantly, no more jeopardising of customer data.

Compliance & security

In today’s legal milieu, with the Financial Intelligence Centre Act (FICA) of 2001 and the Protection of Personal Information (POPI) Act of 2013 binding businesses to stricter data protection criteria than ever before, there is no margin for mistake.

With pbVerify and SignFlow behind your onboarding process, FICA and POPI compliance concerns are a thing of the past.

These software platforms – now integrated into one seamless onboarding solution – offer financial institutions an efficient and guaranteed means of making sure business processes and IT systems comply with the law when dealing with customer data.

 

This is how our new onboarding solution works, in a nutshell:

Front-end: Customer Online App

  1. The customer fills out pbVerify’s intelligent digital onboarding form (complete with auto-population and including Home Affairs/CIPC verification, as applicable).
  2. Details of the designated signatory or signatories (approver/s) are entered.
  3. The signatory/signatories are notified pbVerify has received a customer activation form, of which they are the listed party/parties responsible for sign-off.
  4. The said party/parties follow the link provided, and sign the application form online using SignFlow.
  5. The application process is complete.

Back-end: Admin/Credit Control

  1. Once the customer has completed the application, admin/credit control will get notified of a pending application and can log in to the admin portal, in order to run the required credit and compliance checks.
  2. The digitally-signed agreement/contract can be downloaded online for review and compliance validity confirmation.
  3. If required, different checks can be generated such as CIPC, Bank Code Updates and Full Credit reports.
  4. Once checks are done, the system can notify the relevant department of the application status and pending credit facility.

NOTE: All internal checks are scoped according to customer-specific scope and requirements. This is all customisable, according to business’ specific needs.

Welcome to the future of digital onboarding – an error-free, fast, secure way of procuring new customers.

 

ABOUT OUR COMPANY

pbVerify and SignFlow are products of pbDigital, a division of customer communications firm PBSA.

About pbDigital

pbDigital is the software division of PBSA, which specialises in a range of software products designed to help clients communicate more efficiently with their customers.

pbDigital’s software offerings can be classified according to the following categories:

  • eSign document workflow, digital signature and PKI integration solutions (SignFlow https://www.signflow.co.za/)
  • Credit risk management, data & credit bureau API integration and customer on-boarding
  • Enterprise content and document management
  • Business process automation software with multi-channel output tools and workflow

 

About PBSA

With a rich history of innovation dating back over 90 years, PBSA (formerly Pitney Bowes SA) is a leading customer communications company, offering software, equipment and services to help companies improve operational efficiencies and connect with their customers in more meaningful ways.

Based in Midrand, Gauteng, PBSA understands both hardware and software solutions and is optimally positioned to provide a secure, committed support infrastructure to its Southern African customer base. The company’s solutions help companies engage customers, gain business insight, manage document workflow and ultimately optimise overall business performance.

PBSA believes innovation and growth go hand-in-hand with long-held ideals such as collaboration, integrity and accountability.

PBSA embraces the fast-changing world of technology, which today sets the tone for the business going forward. The company has transformed – and continues to transform – from a purely paper-based to an integrated digital business that serves the market through its own time-honoured patented technology and an extensive network of channel partners.

Everything the company does has one goal – to help its clients communicate more effectively with their customers.

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.