Credit Bureau of India

Credit bureaus are responsible for regulating the flow of credit within the economy. The Credit Information Bureau of India Limited or CIBIL collects information about credit holders to determine their creditworthiness. In addition, they maintain a credit history of every individual to help banks assess risk and provide products and services accordingly. 

Credit Bureaus

Whenever you apply for any credit, be it a loan or a credit card, the first thing that the lending institution does is get your credit history from credit bureaus. These credit rating agencies have a record of the credit behaviour of individuals and companies, which helps banks assess if the b orrower is low risk or a high risk one.

Here is everything that you need to know about various credit bureaus in India, how the credit bureau score is calculated and why this is such an important parameter to determine your creditworthiness. 

Additional Reading: What is Credit Monitoring?

Credit Bureaus in India

In India, credit bureaus collect credit information about individual borrowers and companies to compile a detailed credit report. This information is provided to them by lending institutions periodically. In addition, it includes the details about existing credit, outstanding dues, repayment history and other vital information necessary for CIBIL score calculation.

Among India's three major credit bureaus, TransUnion CIBIL, also known as the Credit Information Bureau of India Limited, is the most popular one. Most banks in India rely on the CIBIL score to accept or reject an individual's application.

A credit bureau sells this credit information to financial institutions and other lenders or creditors as needed. These are private companies but are regulated by the Reserve Bank of India. Individuals who want to understand how to improve CIBIL score can even carry out regular checks on their CIBIL scores and assess the causes for a decline in the score. Whether resolving a CIBIL dispute or changing the credit behaviour, you can make necessary changes to improve your credit history. 

Additional Reading: What is commercial cibil score?

Purpose of Credit Bureaus

The top three credit bureaus in India play a significant role in determining the health of an economy. Here are the responsibilities of credit bureaus to help you understand their purpose in an economy:

  • They help lenders make an informed decision: A credit check bureau is responsible for providing lending institutions with as much data about borrowers as possible. There is a cut-off CIBIL score required for a personal loan, home loan, credit card or any other product because it helps these creditors decide if you are likely to make repayments on your loans or not. This reduces the chances of defaults on loans, minimizes the lending institution's collection efforts, and helps them improve lending practices as well.
  • The credit score acts as a disciplinary tool: The maximum CIBIL score for an individual or organization is 850. More borrowers aiming to achieve a good credit score automatically make them disciplined for repayments and their overall credit behaviour. Maintaining a good CIBIL score range is one of the best disciplinary tools within an economy.
  • The create a competitive credit market: With more people understanding what a good credit score is, the lending policies also become more lenient. Lending institutions thrive on the credit that they offer. So, more favourable candidates mean that they can lend more. This brings down the interest rates, leads to more products and makes credit more accessible to consumers.
  • The credit data helps monitor credit trends: The data available with a credit check bureau helps assess the overall behaviour of borrowers in any economy. This helps lending institutions make necessary changes in their policies to retain desirable trends and eliminate issues that may destabilize the credit market. Lender supervision and trend monitoring protect the economy from market failure, inflation and other common issues. 
  • Macroeconomic benefits: These are the secondary benefits of credit bureaus. For instance, with better credit facilities available to SMEs, the chances of entrepreneurial success are higher. This leads to growth in this sector, improving the economy and creating more opportunities.

Additional Reading: What is minimum cibil score?

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History of Credit Bureaus in India 

The formation of credit bureaus in India is traced back to the need to build a more sophisticated system to track credit. The primary objective of forming CIBIL and the other three major credit bureaus in India was to have an information repository that creditors and lenders could use of to make better lending decisions.

In India, the Credit Information Bureau of India Limited was established in 2000 by the Reserve Bank of India, which makes us relatively new to tracking credit history. Today, it is promoted by TransUnion International Inc, which provides comprehensive credit aggregation facilities. It collects information about both individual and commercial borrowers and provides it to a closed group of lending institutions.

In 2010, the three other credit check bureaus, namely Equifax, CRIF High mark and Experian, were approved by the Reserve Bank of India 2010. In 2011, the first-ever microfinance bureau was launched by High mark. This is one of the largest microfinance credit bureaus in the world, which offers services primarily to the retail lending industry. In India, CRIF High Mark also became the first-ever credit bureau catering to various borrower segments, including agri, retail, MSME, microfinance and commercial.

These credit bureaus offer services like CIBIL score check online by pan card free to their account holders. They also disseminate a lot of data to the lending organizations to ensure the prevention of fraud and bad loans. However, most of this data is very sensitive, which makes it necessary for these credit information companies to be regulated. They are all registered and licensed by the Reserve Bank of India. This ensures that there is no malpractice while the data is shared. The type of data shared and the format of data sharing is standardized according to the Credit Information Companies Act 2005 to protect the privacy of consumers.

Additional Reading: What is cibil grievance?

Role of Credit Bureaus

The role of the CIBIL bureau and other credit check agencies includes the following: 

  • Calculating the credit score: The credit bureau score in India ranges from 300-to 900. This is calculated based on the credit history of every individual and company, which includes the debt load, income, repayment timelines and other details. Using this information, creditors determine the CIBIL score required for home loans and other products, which puts the borrower in a low-risk category. 
  • Disseminating data to creditors and consumers: A credit report is shared with lenders whenever individuals or companies seek credit. In addition to that, consumers can also check free credit scores and get a detailed credit report to gauge their eligibility for various credit products. 
  • Maintaining credit discipline: Consumers today know how to read CIBIL reports. This allows them to fix any issues in their credit history in order to maintain a good credit bureau score. 
  • Developing credit policies: While a credit bureau does not create a credit policy, it provides lenders with all the information that they need in order to develop them. The data available also helps lenders create parameters for innovative products like urgent loans for bad credit in order to make these facilities more accessible.  

Additional Reading: How to check cibil defaulters list

List of Credit Bureaus

Besides the CIBIL, there are three major lending bureaus in India currently. Here is everything that you need to know about them:

TransUnion CIBIL

Incorporated in 2000, this is the most popular and most used credit bureau in India. The CIBIL Bureau was formed according to the recommendations of the RBI Siddiqui Committee. It currently holds the largest consumer database collection with more than 5000 members. This includes banks, housing finance companies, NBFCs and other lending organizations. CIBIL maintains records of more than 1000 million businesses and individuals.

The CIBIL score, which is one of the most reliable parameters to assess the creditworthiness of an individual, was introduced in 2007. It is a risk-scoring method that is used by most banks and NBFCs. In 2017, the Credit Information Bureau of India Limited became TransUnion CIBIL after their stakes were acquired by TransUnion International Ltd.

Equifax

One of the best known global credit rating agencies, Equifax, was registered in India in 2010. It was formed as a joint venture between Atlanta-based Equifax Inc and seven other financial institutions. Their USP lies in providing reliable credit data to companies to make the right investment decisions. They provide innovative analytical services and are known for their insights, flexibility and better time to market. They are currently based in Mumbai and are known for their access to unique data, which is very valuable to large corporations and businesses while making financial decisions.

Experian

This is another international credit bureau agency which is headquartered in Dublin. It is promoted as the premier information services provider, which operates more than 11 commercial credit bureaus and 17 consumer credit bureaus. The primary goal is to provide insights for better consumer risk assessment.

In addition to credit information, Equifax also provides access to trade data, banking sector data, legal items and others that help institutions make better lending decisions. They are known for their unique techniques that collate data to arrive at customized credit scores, which can be used to improve the current processes. This also helps automate the decision-making process and reduce collection costs.

CRIF Highmark

Next to CIBIL, CRIF Highmark is the most used credit information provider in India. They have the most extensive database that can be used by NBFCs, banks, insurance companies and other lending organizations.

CRIF pioneered microfinance bureau databases in India. They have grown into the largest microfinance bureau in the world today. They have the advantage of sophisticated search algorithms, which helps them collect data efficiently. Today, CRIF is known for their dedupe technology and the best records of the credit behaviour of both individual consumers and large corporations. They also provide the best credit management technology and scoring solutions to help lenders add more value to their customers.  

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Credit Bureaus FAQs

✅Which credit bureau is most used in India?

In India, most banks and NBFCs rely on the CIBIL score. This is calculated by TransUnion CIBIL, which was the first credit bureau to be established in India in 2000. CIBIL enjoys a large member database of more than 5000 banking and finance institutions in the country. 

✅How many credit bureaus are there in India?

There are six registered credit bureaus in India currently. This includes CRIF High Mark, TransUnion CIBIL, Equifax, Experian, CRISIL and ICRA. Of the six credit bureaus, the first four are best known and most widely used. 

✅Which CIBIL score is accurate?

The credit score provided by all the major credit bureaus in India can be considered accurate as they use sophisticated software and calculation methods. We currently have a credit score range of 300-900. However, most banking and lending institutions refer to the CIBIL score to make financing decisions. 

✅Is Innovis a credit bureau?

Innovis is a credit bureau that offers the same services as Equifax and TransUnion. However, it is not as well known in India. Creditors primarily use the data provided by Innovis to create a list of customers for their pre-screening and marketing processes. 

✅What is SageStream used for?

SageStream LLC is a consumer reporting agency. This means that they prepare consumer reports and even create credit scores for clients who are primarily credit grinding companies and other lenders. 

✅Is Innovis the same as Equifax?

Innovis is not the same as Equifax, although their functions are similar. They are both credit rating bureaus that use consumer data to develop the credit score and credit history to assist landers with risk assessment. 

✅Who is the biggest credit reporting agency?

Equifax is considered the largest credit reporting agency globally. However, in India, the CIBIL score prepared by the TransUnion CIBIL is most common.