Jonathon Harding presented the success achieved by Yorkshire Water company in the UK of sharing payment data with the credit industry.  Amongst the benefits were an increase in the quality of their customer data, enabling them to improve the number of records on their file with full name & address from 25% to 75%.  This improvement allowed them to improve their billing processes increasing revenue by c£2.0m in the first year of operation. It has also provided the benefit of enabling them to better identify poorer segments of their customer base and older customers who for varying reasons may face difficulties in paying their bills.

From a risk management perspective the company has seen a significant reduction in the number of customers reaching litigation stage and an improvement in the behaviour of people who previously were habitually late payers. These changes have provided a further £2.5m in benefits through improved cash flow and lower bad debt.

Getting to the point where they could share full payment data with the financial industry was not easy, the journey took 6 years and needed the agreement of the UK’s data protection regulator, the water industry’s regulator, the water industry’s trade body and finally SCOR the trade body that oversees data sharing in the UK. Working with Experian they were able to overcome the obstacles they faced to achieve full data sharing.

Clearly this has been success for Yorkshire Water but as a by product of this data sharing the breadth and depth of the credit data pool in the UK has been extended further enabling increased transparency for all organisations involved in extending credit to consumers. Improved transparency has to be something that both the credit industry and regulators welcome and it is hoped that proposed changes to EU data protection regulations will not have a detrimental impact on transparency and the benefits it delivers to all involved.

Reporting from the 8th WCCRC Conference in Taipei:  Phil Cotter, BIIA Board Member and Contributing Editor