What is consumer data, and why does it matter?

How can consumer data improve credit decisioning?

With £2.1 trillion turnover per year, small and micro businesses are a lucrative and growing market in the UK. But lending to these organisations can be fraught with challenges.

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the UK economy, accounting for 99.9% of the country’s business population. 

2024 marks a welcome period of reprieve for the owners of these firms, with inflation and the cost of doing business set to ease throughout the year. However, as more traders are drawn to the market, they face several headwinds. 

Global economic fluctuations, local labour shortages, and the ongoing uncertainty related to Brexit threaten the long-term viability of small UK businesses. 

But what does this mean for lenders and credit providers? 

The reality is that some businesses will be more resilient to these difficulties than others – making it increasingly complex to identify the most creditworthy small businesses to responsibly lend to.  

All businesses that provide credit terms for products and services will benefit from reduced non-payment risk. But the challenge is, lenders and credit providers are often unable to gain a full view of small business financials, including business and personal credit agreements. 

Without comprehensive commercial data on small businesses, lenders and providers may struggle to remain competitive. This blind spot can result in slow creditworthiness assessments, an inability to act decisively on signs of financial distress, and difficulty increasing market share across small businesses in the UK. 

When commercial credit history is limited, how can lenders and credit providers gain a holistic and unified view of risk for both the business entity and the individual behind it?

Consumer data can bridge the gap between lacking commercial data and wise credit decisioning. A blended view of commercial and consumer data helps banks, fintechs and trade credit providers discern between credit-worthy businesses and those that may struggle to weather periods of uncertainty. 

Consumer data explained 

Consumer data is a collection of information that documents an individual’s day-to-day financial activities. It’s collected from public records, credit applications, and lender reporting.  

Small and medium-sized enterprises are the backbone of the UK economy, accounting for 99.9% of the country’s business population.
Department for Business & Trade

This data may include: 

  • Personal details like legal name and address history 

  • Electoral register information  

  • Public data (CCJs, bankruptcies)  

  • Number and types of credit accounts  

  • Credit balances and limits 

  • Repayment activity 

  • CCJ and bankruptcy history  


Consumer data is used to assess individual creditworthiness, manage lending risk, and fulfil compliance regulations. It plays a crucial role in the UK’s financial ecosystem, facilitating responsible lending practices and ensuring individuals have access to credit on favourable terms. 

This highly personal information must be handled securely. Once collected, consumer data is stored by credit reference agencies in a consumer credit file, protected by strict regulatory frameworks. It can only be accessed by the concerned individual or a party with a permissible purpose, such as a bank processing a loan application.  

However, specific parts of consumer data are available to use in other industries, such as trade credit. When evaluating trade credit applications, businesses often rely on consumer data to gauge the financial stability and suitability of potential partners.  

Credit for small businesses – a risk or an opportunity? 

Small businesses make a lucrative market for lenders and credit providers. In 2023, some 5.5 million small and medium-sized businesses contributed an estimated turnover of £2.1 trillion to the UK economy. 

However, there is an ongoing wariness towards SMEs when it comes to credit and lending. With many small and micro business owners lacking commercial financial data, providers often choose not to engage as they can’t determine the risk. 

There are also increasingly blurred lines between what constitutes a consumer and a business, with many independent traders operating from their personal bank accounts. Based on this data, lenders and providers may perceive a heightened risk of credit losses and opt not to engage. 

This is a missed opportunity to tap into a promising market. To gain a full, holistic view of an SME’s circumstances, lenders and credit providers need to incorporate the business’ entire financial position from a risk perspective – and this requires a unified view of both commercial and consumer data.  

For lending and credit providers that can use consumer data to identify the most resilient small businesses, there is a significant opportunity to transform risk assessment processes and grow with SMEs.

Consumer data can be used to supplement commercial data stores

Consumer data encourages responsible lending to small businesses by making it easier to assess the business owner’s creditworthiness.  

Consumer data encourages responsible lending to small businesses by making it easier to assess the business owner’s creditworthiness.
Ravi Sidhu

By analysing details like credit and loan repayment history, lending and credit providers can identify patterns of behaviour that indicate increased risk, such as missed payments or high debt levels. It means business owners who are deemed eligible can afford the loans they are offered and avoid becoming overburdened with debt, while lenders and providers can access opportunities to increase their market share. 


Commercial data is still a valuable resource, but additional information can provide new insights. To put it simply, incomplete data might lead to a business owner being approved despite poor credit history, while good customers could be declined or not appropriately priced for their risk.  

When commercial and consumer data are used in tandem, it supports the most accurate assessment of a candidate’s creditworthiness. For safe, mutually beneficial lending, there is a clear need to provide a holistic and unified view of both the business entity and the individual(s) behind the business.  

Improved data can support digital transformation  

Lenders and credit providers need to digitalise to stay competitive. By integrating commercial and consumer data into one comprehensive view, they can become operationally lean, reducing the time and resources consumed by traditional risk assessments. 

Improved data helps firms automate creditworthiness checks and expedite manual credit risk onboarding processes, all the while retaining a positive customer experience. With employees’ time freed up to focus on more strategic priorities, lenders and providers can expand their existing customer base, optimise costs, and achieve higher margins. 

How can Dun & Bradstreet help?  

Credit decisioning is only as good as the quality of the data it’s based on. Dun & Bradstreet has developed a new way to combine commercial and consumer data to assess credit risk, designed with small business decisioning in mind. 

The D&B Unified Risk View, enhanced by TransUnion’s UK consumer data, helps lenders and credit providers make smarter credit risk decisions.  

With comprehensive coverage of UK businesses, lenders and credit providers can access the data they need to reliably assess creditworthiness in a compliant way. Dun & Bradstreet provides ongoing consultancy to help businesses navigate the fair and transparent use of consumer data.

Automate risk assessments, streamline portfolio management, and proactively identify signs of financial distress with the D&B Unified Risk View. 

Book a no-obligation consultation with one of our credit risk experts to get started.