High Mark will be the country's fourth credit bureau after CIBIL, Experian and Equifax
High Mark Credit Information Services today became the fourth credit information company in the country to receive the approval of the Reserve Bank of India (RBI) to operate as a credit bureau.
The other three that in operation are Credit Information Bureau of India (CIBIL), Experian Credit Information Company of India and Equifax Credit Information Services. TransUnion International Inc holds a 19.99% stake in CIBIL.
Experian started operations in India in August this year, and was followed by Equifax, which commenced operations last month, in partnership with Bank of Baroda, Bank of India, Kotak Mahindra Prime Ltd, Religare Finvest Ltd, Sundaram Finance Ltd and Union Bank of India.
The RBI issued provisional licenses to Equifax, Experian and High Mark in April 2009 for setting up credit bureaus. In November 2008, the central bank allowed foreign direct investment of up to 49% in credit information companies, with a ceiling of 10% of the total voting rights for any single investor group.
In July this year, Micro-finance Institutions Network (MFIN), a network of more than 40 micro-finance companies, invested Rs2 crore for a 5% stake in High Mark. The credit information to be provided by High Mark will be useful for the business of these companies, more so at a time when the micro-finance business has been afflicted by mass defaults on loan repayments in the states of Andhra Pradesh, Karnataka and West Bengal.
Experian, TransUnion and Equifax are the largest credit bureaus in the world. High Mark is a start-up promoted by Professor Anil Pandya and Anuj Desai. According to media reports, venture capital firm Battery Ventures bought a 10% stake in High Mark for about $1 million last year. In 2005, Professor Pandya founded High Mark and in 2007 the company applied to the RBI for a license to operate as a credit bureau.