Bass Alexander Borisovich
Financial University under the Government of Russian Federation
PhD in Economics, Associate Professor, Department of Monetary Relations & Monetary Policy

This paper discusses the issues of improving functioning of credit bureaus in Russia. We examine innovations in the Russian legislation upon this issue. Identify Deficiencies in the functioning of credit bureaus at the present stage of its development in the Russian Federation are identified. We propose the formation of a unified database of free access by credit bureaus and development of standards of information exchange between economic agents.

Keywords: banking system, credit, credit bureau, information asymmetry, microfinance institutions

Article reference:
Improving the functioning of credit bureaus in the Russian Federation // Economics and innovations management. 2015. № 9 [Electronic journal]. URL:

View this article in Russian

Credit Bureau (CB) is the most important part of the banking infrastructure, a necessary element of the normal functioning of the credit market and the market of relations between banks and customers. The activities of credit bureaus is one of the world’s most recognized ways of achieving compliance of information between the bank and the borrower.

The presence of market institutions, accumulating information about the quality of fulfilling by economic agents of their credit obligations is a factor that increases market discipline. The development of the economy and the banking sector is impossible without openness and transparency. And in this an important role is played by the credit bureau. [1]

Basic principles of operation of a credit bureau are the following: these institutions are commercial organizations, which are formed by creditors or belong to them, and can be formed and operate independently from commercial banks. The bureau receives data about their customers, and then compare this information with information obtained from other sources, and, thus, form the credit history of borrowers. Creditors subject to the regularity and reliability of providing information about their customers can always get credit reports of potential borrowers from the bureau.

The main advantages of using a credit bureau for a commercial bank are as follows. First, credit bureaus increase the amount and quality of information on creditworthiness of borrowers, thereby improving the quality of credit rating. Second, credit bureaus increase the level of execution of loan agreements. Thirdly, credit bureaus allow to reduce the cost of information search, which to some extent affects the pricing of credit products. In addition, credit bureaus provide commercial banks with additional services. The provision of special programs for tracking and management of credit risk, facilitating interest payments, repayment of loans, recovery of overdue debts. [2]

From July 1, 2014, a law “On consumer credit (loan)” entered into force and made necessary changes to various legislation, including the law “On credit histories”.

In accordance with the changes, lenders can get more information about the applicant, which in turn will reduce the risks. And borrowers will find in credit histories, information not only from the bank, but also microfinance institutions (MFIs), if they received the loan, and will be able to learn why their credit application was denied. In the corresponding section of the credit history reasons for denial of credit must be indicated, the loan amount and other factors that may influence the decision of the lender. Undoubtedly, the addition of such information is of great help, both for creditors and borrowers.

One of the most important innovations is that the credit history will be formed without the consent of borrowers. If according to the current legislation, a borrower has to give consent to the transmission of data in CB, from 1 July of 2014, this rule was abolished. Thus, the Russian law on credit histories is provided in line with common international practice.

In addition, from 1 July 2014 not only financial institutions but also, for example, employers, property owners, and other individuals and organizations that have received the consent of the borrower to review his credit history, have the right to request credit reports. This innovation extends also to collectors. [3]

In recent times, the CB often provide services that are not related to the issuance of credit reports. If two years ago the share of revenue from the credit history reached 80%, in 2014 — 60%. [4]

That decline was due to revenue growth for services such as scoring bureau, statistical and analytical reports, and verification of passport data.
According to preliminary estimates, the amount of credit histories requested by the population have increased in 2014 by 30% compared to 2013.

In Russia currently 25 credit bureaus are at functioning. But the main competitors are the four major companies, comprising almost 95% of the credit history of banks, — National Bureau of credit histories (NBCH), CB “Equifax Credit services”, CB “United credit Bureau” (OKB), “Credit Bureau Russian Standard”.

In 2013, citizens of the Russian Federation received from CBs about 400 thousand credit histories, then by the end of 2014 this figure had risen to 550 thousand. An increase in the demand for the credit history from borrowers is due to several factors. First, it indicates an increase in the level of financial literacy of the majority of borrowers. The second reason is to reduce credit availability for borrowers, in particular, after the increase in 2013-2014 of “debt burden” of citizens. The third reason is that getting a credit history has become easier and faster, credit bureaus attract new channels for issuance of borrowers. So, at the end of 2014, the largest Russian credit bureau – the National Bureau of credit histories (NBCH) has partnered with a network of salons of mobile communication “Evroset’” on cooperation, under which “the Evroset’” will be willing to give out its credit history in the database of NBCH. [4]

Information collected by credit bureaus can be classified as complete and incomplete. Partial (segmented) information of credit history is normally collected on a limited number of sources. Full information is based on the collection of a wide variety of sources and sectors, including data on retail trade, small business, microfinance, credit cards, insurance, telecommunication companies, utilities, etc. As a result detailed information for the purposes of the credit history enhances the ability of lenders to evaluate and monitor credit risk, creditworthiness and solvency.

However, getting access to a wide range of data providers and other sources is not always possible due to legal and regulatory restrictions. For example, alternative data providers such as telecommunications companies are likely to be unacceptable to supervisory authorities. In addition, access to public sources of information is often limited or too costly, for example, due to the low level of automation of records in some countries.

Before changes that have been made in 2014 to the Federal law dated 30.12.2004 № 218-FZ “On credit histories” (hereinafter — the law “On credit histories”), credit history consisted only of the information characterizing the performance by borrower of its obligations under the loan agreements (loan). In new law, credit history is not limited to information about the credit commitments of a physical entity, individual entrepreneur or legal entity [edited on 28.06.2014].

As of the end of 2014, the indicator of the “depth” of information available in credit bureaus (which includes multiplicity of sources), in accordance with the method of calculation of the World Bank’s rating “Doing business” in the Russian Federation is 7 points out of 12 (64,6% of the adult population connected to the credit bureaus). [4] In accordance with World Bank’s rating “Doing business” in our opinion, a possibility of distribution via the credit bureau of data from retailers and services companies should be stipulated in the legislation of the Russian Federation.

In order to increase the availability of credit information on the borrower from 01.03.2015 changes were made in the law “On credit histories” [edited on 28.06.2014]. These changes, among others, redefine “the source of formation of credit history”. They give the right to organizations, not registered as creditors, about which court decisions on recovery of money under civil law contracts (except contracts of loan (credit)) from debtors (individuals or entities) have entered into legal force, to send information about these debts and the above mentioned borowers to CB, and compel them to amend previously sent to the credit Bureau information in the cases provided by law. When sending information on such debt individuals to CB, this source of formation of credit history is obliged to notify the debtor in the manner prescribed by the Bank of Russia, according to the law “On credit histories” [edited on 29.12.2014]. In the case of cession of rights under these agreements, the source of formation of credit history informs of a new creditor in the credit bureau of information in respect of the transferred obligations.

It should be noted that in the Russian practice of functioning of the system of credit bureaus, unlike long serving foreign systems, there are significant problems, among them one can point out the following: insufficient base of credit stories; lack of information exchange between CBs; time lags in the provision of credit history;  delay in the formation of the credit history of the borrower. To solve these problems it is necessary to create a single database with free access from CBs, development of a standard of information exchange, improving the speed of information exchange between the CBs, use of the Internet for access to the database of credit histories.

These proposals will improve the quality of functioning of the system of credit bureaus, improve the effectiveness of their impact on the development of the credit market, help to reduce the level of risks undertaken by the credit agents, and reduce the transaction costs of interaction of market players.

In addition, these introductions will reduce the impact of information asymmetry on the functioning of the credit market. Therefore, the problem of adverse selection and moral hazard can be reduced in scope due to lower level of risk taken by the players.

Another positive effect of the standardization of credit bureaus’ activities can be a synergistic effect – strengthening the linkages between the different sectors of the credit market. In particular, the market for microfinance organizations and traditional banking credit market. For example, the experience of interaction with micro financial institutions when considering loan applications to the bank will help strengthen control of borrowers’ quality; can alleviate the information asymmetry between different sectors.

Thus, standardization, use of synergies and improving the quality, speed and transparency of CBs’ activities will improve the quality of functioning of the credit market on one side and lower the costs of his appeal on another.

  1. Volkov A. Kreditnaja istorija stanovitsja prozrachnee. Vedomosti 23.04.2014.
  2. Tosunjan G.A., Vikulin A.Ju. Jevoljucija principov zakonodatel’stva o kreditnyh istorijah. M., Novye tehnologii, 2014.
  3. Titov Ju. Sovsem drugaja kreditnaja istorija.
  4. NBKI ozhidaet rosta sprosa rossijan primerno na 30%.

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