Why should SMEs provide consents to CCRA for reporting their credit data?
SMEs may have difficulties in obtaining credit from lending institutions because they are unable to provide proof of credit standing. However, introduction of a database containing reliable credit information on SMEs could give rise to the following benefits:
- Easier for lending institutions to assess the creditworthiness of potential borrowers, thereby expediting the loan approval process
- Creditworthy borrowers should be able to obtain loans more quickly and at more competitive rates
- Favorable credit records could work as proof of an SME’s sound financial standing
SMEs could therefore allocate liquidity to business activities, instead of pledging resources to lending institutions as collateral for credit facilities.
The CCRA is an important addition to Hong Kong’s financial infrastructure, aligning us with other major financial markets, such as in the US and the UK. Support from SMEs is important to the CCRA in terms of the following:
- Enabling steady and healthy growth of Hong Kong’s banks and financial institutions, thereby strengthening the territory’s status as an international financial center
- Strengthening investor confidence by increasing transparency throughout Hong Kong’s financial industry
- Providing a strong base for development and advancement of Hong Kong’s economic growth.
How will SMEs’ shared information be kept and protected?
Only lending institutions and their participating subsidiaries, regulated by the Hong Kong Monetary Authority (HKMA), can access SME information maintained by the CCRA. Lending institutions can access the CCRA database when, and only when, they are assessing an application for a credit facility, or reviewing or renewing an SME’s existing facilities. Lending institutions cannot access the CCRA database for any other purpose, such as marketing.
Apart from basic information such as company name, address, phone number and such like, only credit information is submitted to the CCRA. In this context, credit information includes positive, as well as negative, data. Positive data could refer to the limits of your credit facilities and whether collateral is provided. Conversely, negative data could refer to repayments overdue for more than 60 days. Sensitive information such as balance sheet, assets held by directors, and so forth, is not made available to the CCRA.
The CCRA’s data operation is run in isolation at Hong Kong Interbank Clearing Limited to ensure complete separation of CCRA and D&B databases. The CCRA operation is in full compliance with HKMA guidelines and regulations set by the Hong Kong Association of Banks (HKAB) and the DTC Association (DTCA).
In the interests of full transparency and data accuracy, SMEs are allowed to access their own information at any time by requesting a CCRA Report. They can then request amendments to be made to the CCRA report, in the event of errors being discovered.
How do we provide consent?
Lending institutions need your consent before they can contribute credit data to the CCRA. They normally include the requisite provision of consent in their account terms and conditions of banking services, facility letters or other relevant documentation. Consent needs to be provided to each of your lending institutions, if you have borrowing relationships with more than one.
Please contact your lending institutions to arrange completion of the documentation.