VISA INTERNATIONAL

VISA INTERNATIONAL

October 03, 2005 08:59 ET

Visa International to Support International Finance Corporation's Global Credit Bureau Program; Three Year Agreement Focuses on Credit Bureaus in Developing Economies

WASHINGTON--(CCNMatthews - Oct 3, 2005) -

Visa International and the International Finance Corporation, the private sector arm of the World Bank Group, today announced an agreement to support the development of credit bureaus in developing economies. Visa International will be the first private sector organization to contribute to IFC's Global Credit Bureau Program.

Visa will provide financial support to IFC's Global Credit Bureau Program in emerging and developing markets which in the first year of the program will include Brazil, Bulgaria, Nigeria, the Philippines, Romania, Ukraine, the United Arab Emirates, and Vietnam. Further, Visa will provide technical support where needed, which may include sharing expertise on credit risk management and disseminating best practices to banks. Technical assistance funding for the Global Credit Bureau Program is also provided by the governments of Australia, Italy, the Netherlands, Norway, and IFC.

"Visa International is committed to extending the efficiencies of electronic payments to communities and economies around the world," said Christopher Rodrigues, president and CEO of Visa International. "Electronic payments reduce underground economies, bring greater transparency, and attract capital and consumers to the banking system. When coupled with the judicious use of credit, electronic payment systems can play a critical role in helping small business grow. The development of strong credit bureaus is vital to that process."

Assaad Jabre, IFC's acting executive vice president, said, "Private credit bureaus are an important tool for the growth of private sector enterprises in developing countries; yet a large number of IFC member countries still have no, or inadequate, credit bureaus. IFC's Global Credit Bureau Program aims to meet this critical need by introducing international best practice in credit reporting, corporate governance, and risk management."

IFC is an internationally recognized leader in advancing credit bureau development. Since 2000, it has created or significantly improved credit bureaus in six countries, completed feasibility work in 14 countries, and-together with the World Bank-mapped the credit reporting infrastructure and needs in more than 100 countries.

The program supports private credit bureau development in more than 30 countries through feasibility studies, legal and regulatory advice, research, public awareness projects, and long-term coaching and support. IFC works with financial institutions to improve their understanding of the value and use of credit information. IFC will also address data protection and consumer rights by working with governments, regulators, and credit bureaus, and by supporting consumer education programs on credit reporting.

The Global Credit Bureau Program complements IFC's efforts in expanding access to finance to the poor and underserved. In FY05, IFC financed more than 100 financial markets projects in 50 countries for more than $2.2 billion. In addition, IFC provided financial markets technical assistance in more than 130 projects in 56 countries, worth $130 million in donor commitments as of June 2005.

About the IFC: The International Finance Corporation is the private sector arm of the World Bank Group and is headquartered in Washington, D.C. IFC coordinates its activities with the other institutions of the World Bank Group but is legally and financially independent. Its 178 member countries provide its share capital and collectively determine its policies.

The mission of IFC is to promote sustainable private sector investment in developing and transition countries, helping to reduce poverty and improve people's lives. IFC finances private sector investments in the developing world, mobilizes capital in the international financial markets, helps clients improve social and environmental sustainability, and provides technical assistance and advice to governments and businesses. From its founding in 1956 through FY05, IFC has committed more than $49 billion of its own funds and arranged $24 billion in syndications for 3,319 companies in 140 developing countries. For more information, visit www.ifc.org.

About Visa: Visa connects cardholders, merchants and financial institutions through the world's largest electronic payments network. Visa products allow buyers and sellers to conduct commerce with ease and confidence in both the physical and virtual worlds. As an association owned by 21,000 member financial institutions, Visa is committed to the sustained growth of electronic payment systems to support the needs of all stakeholders and to drive economic growth. For more information, visit www.corporate.visa.com.

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