17 July 2015

Australian Credit Reporting Regime

The Australian Competition and Consumer Commission has announced that it proposes to grant a five year authorisation to the Australian Retail Credit Association Ltd (ARCA) regarding "principles for exchanging comprehensive consumer credit data between signatory credit reporting bodies and lenders".

Those 'Principles of Reciprocity and Data Exchange (PRDE). In February this year ARCA sought
authorisation in relation to provisions of the PRDE that fall into the following categories: Reciprocity Obligations, Consistency Obligations and Enforceability Provisions. ARCA has developed these principles following amendments to the Privacy Act which allow a much broader range of consumer credit information to be collected and exchanged. The PRDE only applies to consumer credit information and credit reporting information.
Authorisation provides statutory protection from court action for conduct that might otherwise raise concerns under the competition provisions of the Competition and Consumer Act 2010. Broadly, the ACCC may grant an authorisation when it is satisfied that the public benefit from the conduct outweighs any public detriment.
 The ACCC considers that the provisions will help overcome a reluctance in the industry to share consumer credit information, facilitating a more complete exchange between credit providers and each credit reporting body. This will lead to increased competition both between credit reporting bodies and between lenders and assist lenders to comply with their responsible lending obligations at less cost.” 
The ACCC states that
Veda, a leading credit reporting body, has raised concern that the provisions are unduly prescriptive and that there will be adverse consequences for competition. Consumer advocacy bodies have also raised concerns about recording repayments under financial hardship arrangements. 
“The ACCC accepts that there are some potential public detriments arising from the costs imposed by the provisions. However, these costs appear to be relatively small and offset by the cost savings and other benefits of these provisions,” 
The ACCC is seeking submissions (by 14 August 2015) regarding the draft determination.