Updated: Feb 4
People often complain that many of their payments to lenders and financial organizations aren't reflecting in their Dun & Bradstreet business credit report. Their frustration doubles when they find out they can't submit those lenders and creditors as "trade references" in the Creditbuilder service they just purchased from D&B. What they don't realize is that some of those transactions may actually be showing up, but in the Small Business Financial Exchange... and that could be a much bigger benefit for their business.
The Small Business Financial Exchange (SBFE) is a nonprofit collective trade association for small business lenders, creditors and financing organizations. SBFE gathers business credit and account data from their members — such as credit cards, banks, and financial services — and they provide that data to business credit reporting agencies and risk management organizations, such as D&B, Experian, Equifax, and LexisNexis. While SBFE does not sell business credit reports, they are responsible for how much of the data finds its way into your company's credit file.
Over the past nearly two decades, SBFE has become a trusted data exchange for small business lenders because they know the data flowed in from other like-minded users. In other words, unlike commercial credit reports that are compiled (and easily manipulated) from a variety of auto-reported and manually-submitted trade and vendor transactions, SBFE data flows directly from the lenders themselves, is inaccessible by business owners, and the legitimacy of the data is indisputable.
How it works: Members (small business creditors and lenders) report verified business information about applicants and existing account holders. That information then is made available to other members (or subscribers) on a reciprocal basis. It's a give and take.
Example: Let's say you applied for a business credit card from Card A. When Card A searched SBFE for information about your business, nothing came up. Card A then pulled your D&B report and found multiple payment experiences and positive scores and ratings, so they made an internal decision to approve your company for a business-based credit card, but likely with a low entry-level credit limit.
Due to Card A's initial search query, your business information is now incorporated into the SBFE network. When Card A approved your application, that information was reported back to SBFE, as will be your future use of the card and your payment history, both positive and negative. In a couple months, when you apply for a business credit card from Card B or for equipment financing from Lender A, your company's credit capacity, legitimacy, and payment information can be matched to the new application, and credit approvals gradually become more readily available.
Because SBFE is member-owned and self-governed by the lending industry, they can maintain independence from business credit reporting bureaus. For this reason, the bureaus are allowed to establish their own criteria by which data is allowed to flow between SBFE and their system, but they are not permitted to alter or challenge the data once it has been incorporated into their system. In addition, the potential for data duplication is eliminated by prohibiting banks or credit cards from being submitted as trade references.
SBFE's reciprocal marketplace is beneficial to small business owners because it helps promote innovation and competition. When Card B sees that Card A has already approved your company for a business-based credit card, there is a heightened enthusiasm to promote their own self-interest and win over your business to use their card instead. That's why one credit card approval will often beget additional offers from other providers. If a creditor raises your credit limit, you will likely see other creditor follow suit.
Whether your small business is just getting started or hung out its shingle decades ago, its important that the data flowing into and out of the Small Business Financial Exchange is consistent, legitimate, verifiable, reliable, and — above all else — positive and powerful!
While you can't contact SBFE directly to manually update data they have about your company, that data does get updated every time your company applies for credit from an SBFE member, changes its address with a creditor, changes banks, or makes a payment to a lender or creditor.
Consistency, viability, and credibility is key, though, and that's why the first step in building business credit should always start with ensuring the data that represents your company is solid. Give me a call if you need help getting started — 800-918-7505 ext 2.