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IFC, Visa International, and the Association of Banks in Lebanon Support the Development of Private Credit Bureaus


In Cairo:
Bassim Sharafeldin

Phone: +202 24619140

E-mail:
BSharafeldin@ifc.org

Riham Mustafa

Phone: +202 24619140

E-mail:
RMustafa@ifc.org

In Beirut
:

Julia Brickell

Phone: +961 3 755 282

E-mail:
JBrickell@ifc.org


Beirut, September 27, 2007 — IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, in collaboration with Visa International and the Association of Banks in Lebanon, today held a roundtable to share international best practices for developing private credit bureaus. The goal of this partnership is to demonstrate the benefits of credit reporting and raise awareness among financial institutions and other stakeholders.

The roundtable targeted senior managers of commercial banks and government officials who are instrumental in developing the private credit bureau industry. Participants discussed the role of credit reporting in modern risk management and in increasing access to finance. They analyzed the components of an enabling regulatory environment and the challenges of establishing private credit bureaus.  


Francois Bassil, President of the Association of Banks in Lebanon, said, “The existence of accurate information helps banks and other lenders assess the creditworthiness of individuals and small businesses and their ability to pay back a loan. This would minimize the risk of nonperforming loans and prevent customers from being overly in debt.”


Tony Gougassian, Visa’s Country Manager in Lebanon, said, “Considering that Lebanon is being rebuilt, the credit bureau will aid the local banks in channeling investments to promising private enterprises that will facilitate the development process. In addition to streamlining loan processes, this will lessen the burden of land collaterals. We believe the roundtable will create a platform for healthy and informative discussions on the issue, helping our member banks and the public understand fully the capabilities and opportunities that the credit bureau will bring to the country.”

Julia Brickell, IFC Country Officer for Lebanon, said, “The international experience indicates that the availability and use of credit reports in Lebanon would help reduce lenders’ operational costs besides increasing the quality of credit decisions and providing significant risk mitigation. This would also lower the cost of financing for borrowers. Credit bureaus are a crucial building block that enable greater access to finance for both individuals and small businesses, thus inducing healthier financial systems. This workshop is yet another major step toward meeting this need in the country.’’

IFC’s Global Credit Bureau Program provides ongoing assistance in more than 30 countries. IFC’s support comprises help in developing a legal and regulatory framework and specific advisory services for the start-up and expansion of credit bureaus, including strategy, technical partner selection, and outreach and awareness events. IFC launched its regional program in 2005, and it is managed by IFC Advisory Services in the Middle East and North Africa - PEP-MENA.


IFC has partnered with VISA International to support the development of credit bureaus in developing countries. Visa is the first private sector company to contribute to IFC’s Global Credit Bureau Program. An agreement was signed in 2005 whereby Visa provides financial and technical support as needed, including sharing expertise on credit risk management and disseminating best practices to banks.

About IFC
IFC, a member of the World Bank Group, fosters sustainable economic growth in developing countries by financing private sector investment, mobilizing private capital in local and international financial markets, and providing advisory and risk mitigation services to businesses and governments. IFC’s vision is that poor people have the opportunity to escape poverty and improve their lives. In FY07, IFC committed $8.2 billion and mobilized an additional $3.9 billion through loan participations and structured finance for 299 investments in 69 developing countries. IFC also provided advisory services in 97 countries. For more information, visit
www.ifc.org.

About Visa International
Visa operates the world’s largest retail electronic payments network providing processing services and payment product platforms. This includes consumer credit, debit, and prepaid and commercial payments, which are offered under the Visa, Visa Electron, Interlink, and PLUS brands. Visa enjoys unsurpassed acceptance around the world, and Visa/PLUS is one of the world's largest global ATM networks, offering cash access in local currency in more than 170 countries. For more information, visit
www.corporate.visa.com.

About The Association of Banks in Lebanon
The Association of Banks in Lebanon is a professional industry organization that was established in 1959. Its key mission is to serve and defend the interests of its Lebanese and non-Lebanese member banks and to promote them on the domestic and international markets.

The association is a key party when it comes to expressing views and opinions on both debatable macro-economic policy issues and drafts of new financial/banking rules and regulations. In addition, it plays an active role in coordinating banks' efforts on common interest issues such as setting the minimum fees and commissions on banking products and services, negotiating the employees union on employment collective convention, and upgrading the payment and telecommunication systems.


All 63 active banks in Lebanon are members of ABL. For more information, visit
www.abl.org.lb.