Credit information sharing in Kenya: assessing progress to date
The insights from this project review are helping to inform the development of a more transparent and efficient credit lending environment in Kenya. We conducted an independent assessment of the Credit Reference II project, the second phase of the Kenya Credit Information Sharing Initiative (KCSI), aimed at supporting mandatory full-file credit information sharing amongst the country’s credit providers. The team assessed the project’s progress since its inception in 2011 against a number of stated objectives including the establishment of a robust, supporting legislative framework and the participation of a range of financial institutions in full-file credit information sharing. Extensive documentation reviews were complemented by interviews with stakeholders from a range of organisations including commercial banks, deposit-taking microfinance institutions, savings and credit cooperative and credit reference bureaus. Based on an assessment of the progress made and challenges faced, the team made a series of strategic recommendations for improving the project in its next stage of operation.
As Kenya’s credit markets become even more competitive, there is an urgent need to promote efficient, responsible lending that is both transparent and inclusive. This relies on robust financial sector infrastructure underpinned by a high quality credit information system that allows monetary authorities to share knowledge and data quickly and easily.
First established in 2009, Kenya’s Credit Information Sharing Initiative saw a number of significant steps towards improved lending practices, not least the establishment of a system for mandatory reporting of negative-only credit information amongst banks. The second phase of the initiative (Credit Reference II project), supported by Financial Sector Deepening Kenya (FSDK) aims to progress even further, extending the reporting system to cover non-bank financial institutions and include positive credit reports. It also aims to deepen the capacity of all participating institutions to help ensure the adoption of new, improved systems and processes.
This project was established to provide an independent assessment of the performance of Credit Reference II to date and make recommendations for improving its further impact on Kenya’s credit markets.
We used a combination of documentation reviews and stakeholder interviews to assess the progress of Kenya’s Credit Reference II project, taking stock of performance against its stated objectives and drawing on the lessons learnt to make detailed recommendations for its future. Credit information sharing needs to be underpinned by robust legislation that promotes comprehensive disclosure whilst respecting data confidentiality. Reviewing the legislative framework in Kenya - and the extent to which it supports mandatory full-file credit information sharing - was therefore a key focus of the project. The team also conducted semi-structured interviews with a range of financial organisations – including commercial banks, savings and credit cooperatives and microfinance institutions - to assess their experiences of, and participation in, the project. Within each category, the selected organisations were chosen to provide a representative cross-section of participating institutions of that type in the country.
Specific activities undertaken during the review included:
- Extensive literature, documentation and legislation reviews
- Stakeholder mapping and structured interviews with representatives from commercial banks, microfinance institutions, savings and credit cooperatives and the country’s two credit reference bureaus
- Capacity needs assessments based on stakeholder questionnaires
- Reviewing evidence, developing strategic recommendations and outlining findings at a stakeholder workshop
Our review has provided crucial insights into the performance of the Credit Reference II Programme in Kenya. By drawing on lessons learnt, it indicates how progress achieved so far can best be consolidated and how sustainable capacity can be built to strengthen and widen the scope of the country’s credit information system.
More broadly, the development of an effective, transparent, full-file credit information sharing environment should support improved access to finance for more businesses, levelling the playing field for micro, small and medium- enterprises in particular. In turn, a more inclusive financial system will help contribute to wider socio-economic growth in Kenya, supporting better development outcomes for some of the country’s poorest people.