Metropol Credit Reference Bureau (MCRB) on Wednesday May 8th, 2019 launched its new product delivery platform code-named Metropol Crystobol.

A first of its kind in Uganda, Metropol Crystobol gives borrowers direct access and control of their credit information and other bureau products via mobile phones.

The service is available upon an easy mobile phone-based registration. To register, customers dial *243# on their mobile phones, for all networks, then key in their Financial Card number and follow the message prompts to complete registration.

According to Samuel Umukoko, the CEO of Metropol Credit Reference Bureau, registered members will then have easy access to any of the bureau’s four main products that include: Credit Reports, Listing Status, Metro-Score And Who Has Listed Me.


Umukoko said that the Metropol Crystobol will empower borrowers to “take control of their credit worthiness by allowing them easy access to affordable credit, negotiate favourable credit terms with lenders and above all, enjoy the freedom to choose their preferred lender

A Credit Report is a detailed account of one’s lifetime borrowing with all current credit providers and their performance in terms of repayment. The report is used by all lenders to determine loan approvals.

Upon registration, all customers will be entitled to a free annual credit report.

Clients will also be able to know their listing status as reported by their various lenders. Green means one has no credit history; black means one has a negative (default) credit history and lastly, Gold means one has a positive credit history.

Under the “Who Has Listed Me” service clients will be able to know the list of all the lenders who have contributed information about a client to Metropol Credit Reference Bureau.

Metro-Score

The Metro-Score® according to Mr Umukoko, “measures one’s credit worthiness and the likelihood that they will meet their financial obligations.”

“The Metro Score has become the industry standard that all lenders use to assess borrower credit worthiness and is also used by lenders to determine appropriate interest rates to charge for various types of credit facilities. The Metro-Score ranges between 200 – 900, with 450 being the middle mark. Customers that score below 450 have marginal to poor credit quality while those that score above 450 have good to excellent credit quality,” explained Umukoko.

Empowering borrowers

Umukoko said that the Metropol Crystobol will empower borrowers to “take control of their credit worthiness by allowing them easy access to affordable credit, negotiate favourable credit terms with lenders and above all, enjoy the freedom to choose their preferred lender.”  

“This will significantly impact on the lender-borrower relations in the Ugandan market, where we shall see borrowers obtaining increased bargaining power by taking advantage of their positive credit profiles,” he said, in a statement. 

Metropol Credit Reference Bureau is a subsidiary of Metropol Corporation Limited, a data driven entrepreneurial company based in Nairobi, Kenya and which has been in existence for the past 23 years.

Metropol CRB was licensed by Bank of Uganda in 2015 and has been in operation since then. It receives credit data on a monthly basis from all the Bank of Uganda licensed financial Institutions and processes this data into credit reports and other value added solutions necessary for making sound credit decisions.  

The high cost of money still remains a major stumbling block to businesses and individuals alike.

Although the central Bank has over the last 24 months cut down the Central Bank Rate (CBR) by 41.18% from 17% in January 2016 to 10% at the end of December 2018, interest rates have not fallen by the same rates- only declining by 17% from an average 24.29% to 20.1% in the same period.

One the contributory factors to high interest rates is poor credit worthiness.

Consumer credit worthiness ignorance also makes it less likely for consumers to plan, budget and improve their credit scores.

Other than improving negotiating powers with lenders, having easy access to credit worthiness reports, especially via mobile phone will help consumers improve their credit ratings.

Muhereza Kyamutetera is the Executive Editor of CEO East Africa Magazine; strategic communications consultant, social-economic analyst and travel enthusiast based in Kampala.