Two leading banks have expressed differing views on a proposal to establish a credit-reference bureau for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) as a means to bolster lending to the sector. Standard Chartered Bank said it supported the proposal but more than that needed to be done to revive the sector. Group executive director Mervyn Davies said the bank considered establishment of the bureau one of many steps needed to help boost banks' confidence in supporting SMEs. 'If banks have to get together with the government and with other officials and [assess] how best we can approach it, good idea. We as a bank will be very keen to help on that,' he said. HSBC was less enthusiastic. Assistant general manager Edwin Lau Chi-kit would not say if the establishment of such a body would encourage banks to offer more support to SMEs. 'We can draw a conclusion on this only after we have looked at the details and the proposed structure of this new establishment,' he said. 'There are many ways to achieve the goal. The success will depend on how each of them is done. We need to look into them more thoroughly before making a judgment.' A credit-reference bureau would keep track of SMEs' credit history and financial disclosures, which would help banks assess risks before offering loans. It might need to collect SME credit information from banks, while the banks might consider such information their proprietary asset and would be unwilling to surrender it.