A platform that will allow financial institutional in the UAE to check consumers’ creditworthiness before lending to them said on Sunday it was ready to start operations - after a planned launch last year was delayed.
Al Etihad Credit Bureau (AECB), a federal government company specialised in providing UAE-based credit reports and other financial information, said all necessary testing has been completed and it is "operationally ready and prepared to launch its services".
In a statement, it was announced that the official operational launch will take place once the bureau's by-laws have been published in the Official Gazette.
The bureau's pre-launch phase also included signing agreements with all UAE financial institutions for the submission of credit data to the bureau, as well as securely connecting all UAE retail banks to the Al Etihad Credit Bureau system.
The launch was initially planned for the middle of last year but was delayed.
Until now, banks in the UAE have been unable to access data on consumers at other financial institutions when making a lending decision. This has created a situation where some have borrowed from many lenders and run up huge personal debts which proved impossible to repay.
Defaulting on debt is deemed a criminal, rather than a civil, offence in the UAE, with those unable to meet repayments facing jail sentences.
Marwan Ahmad Lutfi, CEO of Al Etihad Credit Bureau, said: "Al Etihad Credit Bureau has completed all necessary preparations and is ready to go live with the new system and begin operations soon after the by-laws are made public in the Official Gazette."
He added: "Al Etihad Credit Bureau is striving to set a new global benchmark in the accuracy of credit data capture. This will support the Bureau in its role to provide reliable and thorough credit reports that add significant value to the way risk is assessed in the UAE financial industry."
He said 25 lending institutions, which control approximately 96 percent of the retail credit market, have provided information that exceeds international data quality standards.
Al Etihad Credit Bureau, which was established under federal law in 2010, will continue to develop strong ties with its partners in the banking and financial sectors to maintain the high accuracy rate of data submission, the statement added.