kopi-C: the Company brew (by SGX)

05 MARCH 2021

Credit Bureau Asia Banks on Surging Data Demand

Credit Bureau Asia SGX kopi C the Company Brew Interview Audrey 768x503 - kopi-C: the Company brew - Credit Bureau Asia Banks on Surging Data Demand (by SGX)

Singapore, 05 March 2021:

With more than two decades of sales and operations experience under her belt, Audrey Chia is a dynamic self-starter focused on the values of care, sacrifice and service.

“My greatest inspiration are my parents, who owned a provision shop. Life was far from smooth-sailing as they had to support four children,” recalled the Chief Operating Officer (COO) of SGX-listed Credit Bureau Asia Ltd (CBA).

“It came to a point when my parents had to sell their shop to support an overseas education for some of us – that was a huge sacrifice for them.”

Even after that, they continued to adapt, and re-entered the workforce to continue supporting the family – her father as a delivery driver, her mother as a factory worker.

“Having learned diligence, determination and perseverance from them, I would like my children and staff to develop the same values, to be self-motivated and strive for excellence, while being a trustworthy and caring person,” Chia added.

“Such values are also interwoven into CBA’s core culture, and form the foundation of the way we do business and conduct ourselves.”

A Bachelor of Commerce graduate from the University of Tasmania, Chia has been with CBA for more than two decades. In her role as COO, Chia oversees the Non-Financial Institution (FI) Data Business, and is responsible for the operations of Dun & Bradstreet Singapore and Dun & Bradstreet Malaysia. She is also a director of group subsidiaries Infocredit International Sdn Bhd and Myanmar Credit Bureau.

Looking back on her journey, Chia derives the greatest sense of achievement from setting up CBA’s Singapore Commercial Credit Bureau (SCCB) in 2005.

“The SCCB is a proprietary platform that we built from scratch – I was involved from development to launch, and all the way to the acquisition of clients,” she recalled. “It took us a year to get it off the ground, as we focused on ensuring the quality of reports, and built up our sales team. But it was worth it.”

Today, SCCB, which provides a suite of services and products ranging from commercial information and company profiles to payment indexes and financial stress ratings, is a key contributor to CBA’s Non-FI Data Business with a 30% revenue share.

Listed on SGX Mainboard in December 2020, CBA is a leading player in the credit and risk information solutions market in Southeast Asia. Its clientele comprises financial institutions, multinational corporations, government bodies, public agencies, local enterprises and individuals across Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Myanmar.

On the Cutting Edge

CBA’s business has two core segments – the FI Data Business and the Non-FI Data Business, covering consumer and commercial credit risk information. The Group, together with its joint ventures, is the dominant market leader in Singapore’s FI Data Business, and the sole market player in the FI Data Business of Cambodia and Myanmar.

For its Non-FI Data Business, the Group has more than 6,000 customers, including multinational corporations and small and medium enterprises, as well as access to a database spanning more than 330 million business records globally.

CBA’s Non-FI Data Business operates in Singapore and Malaysia, where customers can access a wide range of business information, risk management services, and commercial insights, using data from a variety of sources, including publicly accessible registries, as well as Dun & Bradstreet’s extensive international network.

Looking ahead, CBA continues to invest in the digitalisation of its businesses to deliver leading-edge client experiences. “With increased technology adoption globally, I believe digitalisation of our products is the way for CBA to move forward,” Chia noted.

“Digitalisation allows customers to communicate their requirements to us, while we in turn customise the reports and present the data in any format that customers require, so it can be seamlessly integrated with their processes, and accessed as and when required.”

CBA is also developing a proprietary integrated credit bureau platform software that supports cross-industry information uploads to better meet user needs. “We want to develop the technology that will facilitate the integration and sharing of data, and eventually create full-service, multi-industry credit bureau platforms, which are customisable in accordance with permitted regulatory environments,” she added.

The Group is also exploring opportunities to expand into other ASEAN markets over the next three to five years, through acquisitions, joint ventures, and/or partnerships.

In the short term, organic growth in existing markets remains a priority. “For Singapore, we plan to expand our credit bureau membership base to include insurance companies, utilities, moneylenders and leasing companies, as well as upcoming digital banking businesses,” Chia said.

In October 2020, CBA won a tender by Singapore’s Ministry of Law to develop, establish and operate the Moneylenders Credit Bureau.

For its Non-FI Data Business, CBA plans to increase market penetration of risk diligence solutions in its SCCB platform. In addition to its Telco Credit Bureau platform, the Group is also exploring data collection from other sectors.

Due Diligence Demand

Elsewhere in ASEAN, CBA aims to diversify and introduce additional offerings in Cambodia, in tandem with growth in the country’s economy, credit industry and credit penetration rates, to meet evolving customer and industry needs.

“We also recently commenced credit bureau operations in Myanmar, and will work on getting our operations off the ground in the next two years,” Chia added.

The bright outlook for the credit and risk information solutions industry augurs well for CBA. “Increased governmental and industry regulations on financial institutions has raised risk management requirements,” she pointed out.

“Likewise, greater global recognition of the importance of data in making sound decisions has resulted in the embedding of credit reports in decision-making processes, while the proliferation of global trade, and growing need for compliance in trade transactions, have spurred demand for due diligence on counter-parties.”

COVID-19 has also stoked appetite for credit and risk data services. “We’ve seen heightened credit vigilance and increased due diligence among our customers during the pandemic, which has led to a growth in ad-hoc reviews being conducted during these difficult times,” Chia said.

And CBA, possessing the key competitive strengths of industry leadership and a defensive business model, is well-positioned to weather market volatility and ride on these growth trends.

“We have a proven financial track record, resilient revenue streams and strong cash flows. Our extensive, high- quality database forms the foundation for our product and service offerings, and accounts for our captive portfolio of customers,” she added.

Despite rosy prospects, challenges abound, and there is much to keep the 46-year-old up till the wee hours.

“Our business is dependent on the amount of information we collect, consolidate, analyse and organise, which is fuelled by the growing use of computers and mobile devices by corporations and individuals, so data security is crucial, and one of the major issues we worry about,” she admitted.

“We want to ensure our data security is resilient against cyber hacks and breaches, so that we can proactively incorporate new technologies into our platforms, improve our internal processes and databases, as well as allow our customers more flexibility in visualising and consuming the data – which ultimately improves the user experience.”

At the end of the day, family remains a focus for Chia, who has two boys, aged 10 and 15.

“My parents’ acts of sacrifice and commitment to the family have taught me that nothing is impossible when we have an optimistic outlook, and truly put our soul into pursuing our dreams,” she said.

“It has inspired me to focus my energy on building a better future for not only my children, but my staff as well, to allow them to reach their full potential.”

To read the interview offline, download the PDF here.

About Credit Bureau Asia             (www.creditbureauasia.com)

CBA is a leading player in the credit and risk information solutions market in Southeast Asia, providing credit and risk information solutions to an extensive client base of banks, financial institutions, multinational corporations, telecommunication companies, government bodies and public agencies, local enterprises and individuals across Singapore, Malaysia, Cambodia and Myanmar. CBA’s business has two core segments, the FI Data Business and the Non-FI Data Business, covering both consumer and commercial credit risk information.

The Group, together with its joint ventures, is currently the dominant market leader in Singapore’s FI Data Business and the sole market player in Cambodia’s and Myanmar’s FI Data Business. Depending on the territory involved, these credit bureaus operate to provide their subscribing members, mainly banks and financial institutions, with access to credit information on consumers or business entities, all of which are generated from up-to-date credit information contributed by subscribing members. As at 31 December 2020, the Group has more than 200 financial institution members across Singapore, Cambodia and Myanmar which include banks, microfinance institutions, leasing companies and rural credit operators.

For its Non-FI Data Business, the Group has more than 6,000 customers (including multinational corporations and small and medium-sized enterprises) and access to a database covering more than 330 million business records globally as at 31 December 2020. CBA’s Non-FI Data Business operates in Singapore and Malaysia, where customers can access a wide range of business information and risk management services, sales and marketing solutions, commercial insights and other services, using data sourced from a variety of publicly accessible registries and Dun & Bradstreet’s extensive international network as well as information contributed by businesses which subscribe to CBA’s payment bureau services..

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