As Asian companies look to expand cross-border they will inevitably establish new business partnerships and relationships in unfamiliar territory. With the pervasiveness of web commerce in today’s business environment, it is possible that one may never meet or even speak to potential buyers or suppliers. In this scenario, it is doubly important to identify the parties involved in every major transaction.
“Many Asian companies are looking to ride the economic boom in Asia and wish to expand their businesses in the region and across the world,” said Graeme Beardsell, Asia-Pacific vice-president at Experian, an Ireland-based global information services company. “They want to know who they will be dealing with at the end of a very long supply chain.”
Experian launched its International Business Reports 360 (IBR 360), a global commercial credit report service, in the region at the end of last month, which allows companies to access commercial credit information about suppliers and customers globally through Experian’s web portal. With IBR 360, companies can buy a credit report on another company on a pay-as-you-need basis through the internet. The report provides credit information that Experian obtains from its partner credit bureaus in the 220 countries in which it operates.
“It is very important, particularly for businesses that have a high transaction volume in countries where they would otherwise not operate, to get insight into the credit environment,” said Beardsell. “Accurate credit reports essentially help to reduce the risk of conducting regional or international activities. But risk also depends on the people at either end of the transaction.”
As the emerging markets drive the bulk of trade in Asia-Pacific, credit reports such as those that Experian provides can prove to be vital for larger companies when trading with small and medium-size enterprises (SMEs) or even for SMEs themselves. According to Beardsell, there is much demand for accurate and high-quality credit data among Asian companies. Their software-as-a-service (SaaS) model is also popular, especially for smaller companies that do not want the extra burden of having to set up their own risk analytics teams.
“A pay-as-you-need credit reporting system that can identify potential risks and assist in making smarter decisions about your potential customers and suppliers at a low cost, appeals to many SMEs in Asia,” Beardsell explained.
Although the credit market in Asia is fragmented due to the majority of credit bureaus being owned by governments, Beardsell says that Experian provides credit reports with a turnaround time of less than 24 hours. “There are very sophisticated and automated systems which provide us with credit details that we can turn around in a matter of hours, all the way through to very rudimentary pen and paper information that would take us more time to mould into a format that our customers would be happy with,” he said.
Experian has already been successful with a pre-launch of IBR 360 in Japan and is looking to Singapore and Hong Kong as the next two destinations for the product. Beardsell also highlighted China and Malaysia as two major SME markets for IBR 360 and for the company to tap into.