Transunion Rwanda, formerly known as the Credit Reference Bureau, is a repository of credit information on consumers and businesses; as such, it enables lenders to make fast and informed, reliable and objective credit decisions. It has now introduced a mobile solution Menyesha to give people easier access about their credit status. Transunion’s country manager, Aimable Nkuranga, talked to hope magazine about the Transunion Menyesha app and the organisation’s operations.
Briefly describe the new Menyesha Mobile Solution?
Menyesha is a mobile-based solution that was developed by Transunion to help Rwandans take change of their credit health. This means a person can, with his mobile phone, check his credit status and order a credit report, a credit score and a clearance report. This app will help people know their status before they walk into the bank.
When a customer requests for a loan, financial institutions check our database for that person, and they get an image which helps them make a decision to approve or deny the loan. Menyesha is an SMS-based solution where customers send their ID number to the short code 2272, and then follows the SMS prompts to get the credit status.
It is a platform that solves a crucial problem, because on average Rwandans travel one hour to get to the nearest financial institution only to get denied a loan because of a small problem with their credit status.
Do you think that as it becomes easier for people to know their credit score, the rate of defaults will reduce?
The more people know about their credit status, the more responsible they become as borrowers. I don’t think a lot of people know their credit status or scores.
It is only when there is a negative status on a person’s credit report, and he is denied a loan, that they realise there is an institution that’s keeps people’s credit history. So the Menyesha app addresses such problems and saves people time.
What inspired Transunion to use ICT to improve its services and how do you expect it to enable you to serve your clients efficiently?
In an institution like Transunion, we serve all Rwandans but we cannot be everywhere, so ICT is one of the channels that help us reach everyone wherever and whenever they need our services without forcing them to come to our offices.
If a customer realizes that their credit scores are deteriorating, how do you help them improve?
We normally offer people advise whenever they need it.
Different circumstances can make your status deteriorate; for example if you have a business and it collapses. But people react in different ways: some are quick to talk to their bankers and let them know what’s happening, others just ignore it. Normally we advise them on how to manage such situations.
People shouldn’t ignore or cut communications with their banks, as they always find solutions that can help their clients.
One thing clients often don’t know is that when someone has a good credit history, they have more bargaining power with lenders, for instance on interest rates. A person with a good credit status has a bigger chance of getting a loan quickly and with good interest rates.
Apart from banks, which other clients are you working with and in what ways?
Apart from banks we work with microfinance institutions and SACCOs, with insurance companies, telecoms, utility companies, public Institutions like Rwanda Revenue Authority and including commercial enterprises such as Cimerwa or Mobisol. Our clientele is made up of different types of organizations.
When people think about a credit reference bureau like Transunion, some of them tend to think about us as a blacklisting company, but we are just an information company. We keep both negative and positive information and people have to leverage on that. We actually believe in information for good.
Do companies get credit scores? If so, do they also have option of using the app?
In our database we have information for individuals and companies.
Menyesha is currently for individual consumers but in the future we will open it for companies. Currently, companies have to request their credit reports, through other existing channels.
What other innovations should we expect from Transunion in the coming future?
In the near future, we are going to launch the Menyesha application for smartphones and provide the same information.
We will also offer a lot more on the platform; e.g., when there is a change in your credit status, you will receive an SMS alert notifying you of it. This will be available before the end of next year.
Read this article and more in issue n° 81 of Hope Magazine.