Middle East Credit Reporting Association formed

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1. Non-profit voluntary organisation to create awareness and promote credit reporting in region
2. Neutral body to facilitate credit information sharing on companies and individuals across region

In a move to support the development of credit bureaus and enhance credit information sharing across the region, credit bureaus based in the UAE, Bahrain, Oman and Pakistan have come together to establish the Middle East Credit Reporting Association (MECRA), a non-profit association of credit information suppliers in the Middle East. This announcement was made today by the founding members of the association and coincides with the workshop on Developing Credit Bureaus in the Arab World organised by the Arab Monetary Fund (AMF) and the International Finance Corporation (IFC), which will be held in Abu Dhabi on November 9, 2009.

MECRA has been established to create awareness and promote the credit reporting industry in the region. The association will grow to facilitate the exchange of credit information on individuals and commercial entities between its members within the guidelines of each bureau and the local laws and regulations of each country. Further, it will serve as a knowledge-sharing platform on credit bureau operations and data sharing best practices.

MECRA’s articles of association were signed on November 8, 2009, by Emcredit and other founding members, including BENEFIT Company, Bahrain; National Bureau of Commercial Information, Muscat; and Credit Chex, Pakistan. The composition of board of directors and the appointment of the chairman of the board will be announced shortly.

Membership to MECRA will be open to public and private entities in the region that are involved in the collection and distribution of credit information. The association offers full membership as well as associate membership.

“MECRA is a significant step towards a regional alliance that will promote knowledge sharing in the credit information industry – a catalyst for economic growth,” said Ali Ibrahim, Managing Director, Emcredit. “The challenges resulting from the global financial crisis have highlighted the need for stronger risk management practices. As well, the transient population of our region necessitates greater collaboration between regional credit bureaus so that credit data can be used effectively to empower business and financial decisions.

“As we aim to make MECRA the unified voice for all credit reporting agencies in the region, we encourage other regional credit bureaus to join the association, so that it can represent the interest of regional credit bureaus to an international audience.”

For his part, Hamad Salem L. Al Neaimi, Executive Director for Commercial Affairs at the Abu Dhabi Department of Planning and Economy, and President of the organising committee for the Doing Business Forum, said: “We welcome the creation of the Middle East Credit Bureau Association and value the impact that credit bureaus have on easing access to credit, and in turn reviving economic growth. At a UAE level and in accordance with the instructions of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council, we will continue to work on improving the doing business environment in Abu Dhabi and on assisting Emcredit in expanding its coverage to create a world class credit information infrastructure in the UAE, a critical element that will help enhance the UAE’s position in the Doing Business Report ranking.”

Robin Watson, Assistant General Manager of Benefit, said: “We have always worked closely with the regional credit reporting industry and are pleased to be a founding member of MECRA. There is much to be done in the region in enforcing best practices in credit bureau management, standardisation of the regional credit reporting industry and the development of comprehensive reporting solutions. MECRA will be playing an active role in all these areas.”

Miguel Llenas, General Manager of National Bureau of Commercial Information, which was set up in June 2008, said: “The credit referencing industry is an important part of any economy. It brings immense long-term benefits for banks, financial institutions, small and medium-sized enterprises, commercial-sector participants and consumers. Joining MECRA will give us an opportunity to play a pivotal role not only in boosting the credit sharing environment in Oman but also in the wider region.”

Nabil Mweis of Credit Chex, Pakistan, said: “Pakistan has long-standing ties with the Gulf. With a large Pakistani population residing in the GCC, and various business and trade relations with the region, the relevance of our joining MECRA is significant. This also paves the way for facilitating future cross-border data sharing agreements.”

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