Alternative data centre for lenders planned for next year
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Alternative data centre for lenders planned for next year

A digital non-credit data centre could be launched in Thailand next year, says National Credit Bureau (NCB) chief executive Surapol Opasatien.

This open data source would contain non-credit information such as consumers' utility bills, which would help banks looking for alternative data to determine loan approvals for underbanked borrowers.

Mr Surapol said the related regulators of private companies feel encouraged about a new entity, either a digital data centre or a digital data platform, depending on the volume of data expected to be uploaded to it.

The non-credit data might be consolidated into the NCB's existing credit database, he said.

It is possible the bureau will manage the data, or a non-credit data service provider will be formed to manage it, depending on the decision of the related parties, said Mr Surapol.

Most non-credit data centres in other countries are privately run by companies, and Thailand is expected to follow that model, he said.

The initial data used in the new centre would be utility bills from the Metropolitan Electricity Authority, the Provincial Electricity Authority, the Metropolitan Waterworks Authority and the Provincial Waterworks Authority. The mobile phone bills of Advanced Info Service (AIS) and True Corporation would also be involved in the new data centre.

"Some organisations will join the centre initially, while others might take more time to digitise their paper-based data before participating," said Mr Surapol.

He said if the centre succeeds in becoming a source of alternative data, owners of other kinds of non-credit data might contribute information.

Mr Surapol said the alternative data provides another avenue of analysis other than credit scores for loan applicants, especially for low-income earners, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), and the underbanked.

These borrowers have been heavily affected by the pandemic in term of debt repayment records, making it harder for them to access new loans, he said.

Despite the impact of the pandemic, some SMEs are recording positive cash flow from obtaining purchase orders, while some unemployed individuals can earn money by becoming online merchants, Mr Surapol said.

These purchase orders and online business transactions can be used as alternative data when banks consider granting them loans, he said.

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