As I walked down the aisles of one of the shops today - I saw an overwhelming presence of Christmas being in the air and realised - we have just over a month to go to Christmas - 2014 is almost gone...
2014 has most certainly been the year of controversies, massive regulatory changes and on top of it all, we embarked on finalising the process of becoming the 5th Payment Profile hosting Bureau in South Africa - and it is with great pride and joy that we announce:
The National Credit Regulator has approved CPB to host Consumer Credit Information with effect from 1 October 2014. We are very excited about the challenges that lie ahead of us and we look forward to incorporating data that has been part of the formal credit industry for years already - and then combining it with our existing footprint and data to bring exceptional data and insight to our existing and new clients.
One of the challenges we have embarked on this year, is to try and find the missing datasets from the Consumer Income and Expense statements –these will be crucial to ensure compliance to the new affordability guidelines that is currently lying in draft format with the DTI.
We will continue to have this as a priority for the rest of 2014 and 2015 as this will be the key factor for success for the years to come.
Recently I presented “ Linking the unlinked data” at a Credit Industry event yesterday - and as always –the statistics stunned me if you add them all together.
To share but a few...
- 46 million consumers on a Credit Bureau
- 22 million of these are credit active
- 42% - approximately 9.2 million - are in good standing
- 58% - approximately 12.8 million - are more than 1 month outstanding
- 15.6 million people are receiving grants from Government via SASSA
- 3.3 million people of the workforce are contributing to 99% of SARS income
- Unemployment is sitting at 25%
- Our credit active consumers has 80 million accounts amongst them
- 365 million enquiries had been done against our consumers on bureau during the last quarter...
If we add all these to the same pot, we are most certainly in for the run of our lives during 2015.
We have built specific solutions around these challenges and we urge all our clients to embrace these challenges and to take hands with a partner that can assist your wagon to get out to the other side.
I salute my staff today - (for those of you that are as blessed as I am and got a nice surprise for Boss’ day) - you guys are worth gold to me and we would never have been able to be where we are today if it wasn’t for you. Thank you each individually for making it happen - CPB’s time has come...
Message from the office of the CEO - Marina Short
The Importance of Data Completeness
The correction of incomplete data is one of the key focus areas of many municipalities in this financial year.
In addition, there have been a number of municipalities where the Auditor General has found municipalities wanting in the area of data completeness and has tasked these same municipalities to enhance their databases to promote better financial management, data integrity and meet their mandated obligations.
The issue of incomplete data affects a number of revenue management areas including:
- Revenue gaps
- Arrears debt
- Indigent management
- Credit Control
Revenue gaps (or revenue leakage) remain a key concern. Revenue gap analysis seeks to determine which properties are not being billed due to oversight. However, it is not possible to determine these gaps when there exists known issues of incomplete data. Put simply - if accounts that are being billed do not accurately reflect Erf/Stands then it is unknown whether or not all Erf/Stands are actually being billed.
An analysis of municipal debt has shown a strong correlation between arrears debt and incomplete data. There exists a greater likelihood of an account being in arrears in the cases where an account has insufficient data to determine the responsible payer. In some cases the account may not even be delivered to the account holder at all due to insufficient postal address information.
Indigent management represents an opportunity to the municipality to access government funding for those account holders in need of financial assistance. However, in order to accurately determine the potential base of deserving households, accurate and complete data is essential. In addition, accurate data is required to root out fraud in this sector and ensure that funds are only awarded to those households who desperately need assistance.
Credit control encompasses all the above areas (and more!). Effective credit control is impossible without the ability to accurately determine the contracted party and to make effective contact with these people. When data is accurate and complete it becomes easier to make contact with debtors in arrears to settle the debt, make arrangements to pay, or identify social subsidies where applicable.Simple, low cost, credit control actions also become available to the municipality, including:
- SMS reminders
- Email of account statements
- Call centre campaigns
Many of these actions are highly effective in the early stages of default - the sooner credit control takes place, the more effective the intervention.
Accurate, complete data speaks to many challenges faced by municipalities today, yet the solution is often not as complex as first thought!
CrossCheck makes use of state-of-the art matching techniques and empowers small teams of people in your own municipality to accurately enhance a large portion of your existing data.
This combination of computer-based intelligence and local job creation is a win-win, providing accurate data and job creation in a simple, effective package.
Article written by Alain Craven - CIO of Consumer Profile Bureau
The use of evidence obtained from social media.
All of us post messages on Facebook and the internet from time to time, and many of us are ardent Twitter users. Like everything in life, the publication of those messages, extracts or excerpts, though seemingly private in nature, is governed by legal principles which come with a set of do’s and don’t’s. Who would’ve thought that something as simple as tweeting a seemingly innocuous comment would give rise to a legal debate as to whether the content of the tweet could be admissible as evidence in a court of law?
The Regulation of Interception of Communications and Provision of Communication-Related Information Act 70 of 2002 (“RICA”) contains a general prohibition on the interception of communications of individuals aimed at protecting an individual’s Constitutional right to privacy. Notwithstanding this general prohibition, interception of communications is permitted in limited circumstances, for example where the communication is intercepted by a party to the communication or where a party to the communication gives his/her consent to the interception.
The issue of privacy in the context of social media still remains to be determined (currently case law only deals with open profiles on social media platforms) and how our courts will deal with issues arising out of social media is still, to a large extent, uncertain. When assessing the admissibility of evidence obtained from social media, the court must consider:
- whether the person’s possession of the evidence constituted a violation of the other person’s privacy (for example ‘hacking’), and if so
- whether such violation of privacy is reasonable and justifiable in an open and democratic society.
In this regard, a distinction must be made drawn between evidence in the public domain and improperly obtained evidence.
Evidence in the public domain:
Where information has been posted onto the internet, Facebook (and the user does not have any privacy settings), Twitter or a blog, such information can be exploited by any user of the internet without authorisation. Such information is in the public domain and the use thereof will not infringe another’s legal rights, such as the right to privacy, copyright or an obligation of confidentiality and accordingly such information should be admitted as evidence.
Improperly obtained evidence:
By contrast, where information has been obtained in an improper manner (i.e in contravention of RICA) from a Facebook user who has activated the social network’s privacy settings, the use of such information would result in the infringement of a legal right or the contravention of a law. Accordingly, the use of evidence obtained contrary to a constitutional principle (such as the right to privacy) should be excluded from evidence due to the fact that its admission would be against the good morals of society. Nevertheless the court has an overriding discretion to allow such evidence to be admitted despite the fact that it has been improperly obtained.
In summary, a party to a dispute may use information downloaded from social media that is in the public domain as evidence. However, the question as to whether a party may use evidence that was improperly obtained from social media will depend on the specific facts of the case and the court will have a discretion to exclude such evidence.
Article written by Kelly Hutchesson - Candidate Attorney of Eversheds
Understanding the powers conferred upon an organ of state in "blacklisting" persons or companies as suppliers or service providers
Section 28 of the Prevention and Combating of Corrupt Activities Act, No 12 of 2004 (Act) empowers a court to direct that a convicted person’s particulars, conviction and sentence be endorsed on the Register. If a company is convicted of corruption, the court may order that the company, any partner, manager, director or any other person exercising control over the company, who knew or should have known of the corruption, be endorsed on the Register. Section 28 of the Act does not make provision for blacklisting without judicial oversight.Regulation 13 of the Preferential Procurement Policy Regulations, 2011(Regulations) makes provision for the blacklisting of persons but only in the procurement environment. Regulation 13(1) provides that an organ of state can only act against the tenderer or person awarded the contract upon detecting that:
- the B-BBEE status level of contribution has been claimed or obtained on a fraudulent basis; or
- any of the conditions of the contract have not been fulfilled.
- Regulation 13(2) further provides that an organ of state may, in addition to the aforesaid remedies:
- disqualify the person from the tender process;
- recover all costs, losses or damages it has incurred or suffered as a result of that person's conduct;
- cancel the contract and claim any damages which it has suffered as a result of having to make less favourable arrangements due to such cancellation;
- restrict the tenderer or contractor, its shareholders and directors, or only the shareholders and directors who acted fraudulently from obtaining business from any organ of state for a period not exceeding 10 years, after the audi alteram partem (hear the other side) rules have been applied; and
- Refer the matter for criminal prosecution.
Having established that statute makes provision for the blacklisting of persons, it is worth mentioning that such powers are with limitation and to be exercised with caution. Persons can be blacklisted by organs of state if a court so directs or if persons have breached the provisions of Regulation 13(1).
It would appear that Regulation 13 would only be applicable pursuant to the award of a previous tender in which the successful tenderer committed an act of fraud. However the provisions of s217 of the Constitution dealing with procurement by organs of state must be borne in mind before a person may be blacklisted. Essentially an organ of state is required to act in a system that is inter alia fair, equitable, reasonable and transparent.
Article written by Thabile Fuhrmann and Corne Lewis of DLA Cliffe Dekker Hofmeyr