Credit Data CRB Limited, a wholly-owned Malawi company operating a credit reference bureau, has complained to the Malawi Competition and Fair Trading Commission (MCFTC) that it is being unfairly treated for â€˜personal issuesâ€™ by the Bankers Association of Malawi (BAM).
The company, alongside CRB Africa from Kenya, was granted a licence by the Reserve Bank of Malawi (RBM) to operate credit referencing services in Malawi.
A credit bureau collects credit information from financial institutions and traders who transact on credit, and the information collected is then collated and sold in form of reports to authorised users.
In a complaint sent to MCFTC seen by Business News, Credit Data CRB managing director Patricia Mwase observed that it is the requirement by law that BAM provides data to the company.
â€œAll other institutions such as insurances, cooperatives, microfinance are cooperating by providing the data. But BAM is refusing to supply data to Credit Data by giving flimsy excuses,â€ claimed Mwase.
She said the bankers are opting to submit data to CRB Africa and that RBM has tried to intervene by issuing directives, but BAM still does not want to comply.
â€œWe feel our company is being treated unfairly because of personal issues which are better known by bankers association. We, therefore, are lodging a complaint that as a Malawian company legally licensed we have the right to operate in Malawi whether there are personal issues or not,â€ she said.
Acting director at MCTFC Wezzie Malonda confirmed on Tuesday receiving the complaint from Credit Data CRB, saying they have launched investigations to ascertain whether there is contravention of Competition and Fair Trading Act.
â€œWe are going to make necessary recommendations to ensure that there is compliance of Fair Trading and Competition Act. Credit Data has filed a complaint that they are facing operational challenges. The company, just like anyone else, can come to us to complain if they feel there is unfair treatment,â€ she said.
Malonda could not indicate when the issue will be sorted out, but said it is a straight forward issue.
In an interview, Mwase said a credit reference bureau is a labour-intensive venture and that if they were fully operational, they could employ about 30 Malawians.
â€œWe have our investment right here [Malawi] and the money that we make is also invested in Malawi. I donâ€™t understand why we are being sidelined, yet we could have opened opportunities for employment. Is it because the company is being run by a woman?â€ she queried.
Mwase said they are even refused entry in most of the banking premises.
BAM executive director Lyness Nkungula could not be reached on Tuesday for a fresh comment, but earlier told Business News that banks are at liberty to work with a credit reference bureau of their choice.
She, however, said the banks do not want to work with the local credit reference bureau, but that discussions are underway with the RBM on the way forward.
Nkungula said there was need to set up a single system to provide common data for the two companies or any other firm that will later come on the market.
â€œWe are not choosing or undermining the local company. All we are saying is that it would be simpler if we use one system because suppose we have 10 bureaus, the current situation will mean having 10 systems,â€ she argued.
But Mwase counter argued that they are ready to use the same template used by their counterparts.
Former RBM governor Dr Perks Ligoya noted that while banks are free to deal with a reference bureau of their choice, they are supposed to be fair to ensure the effectiveness of the credit reference scheme in Malawi.