Business / Economy

China's consumer credit service lacking: report

By Zheng Yangpeng ( Updated: 2015-10-29 13:44

Despite its rapid growth, China's consumer credit service is neither "inclusive", nor very "affordable", according to a report.

The report, released by Tsinghua University's Center for China in the World Economy on Tuesday, researched 114 commercial banks, small-sum loan companies, e-commerce companies and consumer finance companies across China that are offering consumer credit service, and found that the service is not satisfactory.

In an index that gauges the "threshold" of such service that include sub-indices of "minimum requirement for borrowers' monthly income", "requirement for borrowers' occupation", "average loan size", "maximum repayment period", and "approval rate", only eight firms out of the 114 scored above 60 (full mark is 100).

"Most firms still favor the ‘rich' and avoid the 'poor', " said Wang Hongling, an economics professor with the center and an author of the report.

In another important index that gauges "affordability", firms scored better but not satisfactory either. The index include sub-indies of "interest rate of loans", "service fees", "possibility of delayed repayment", "any rescue measures". Forty-nine out of the 114 firms scored above 60.

"There is to some extent ‘trade-off' between threshold and affordability, which means if you lower your threshold, the cost of such service has got to be raised to offset the rising risk," said Wang.

To be profitable, most consumer credit services have a monthly interest rate of 0.8 to 3.5 percent , plus a service fee, which translate into an annual interest rate of as much as 42 percent.

Wang said regulators should develop tolerance of the pricing and not consider them to be "excessive high", and let the market play its role.

China's consumer credit has grown to a 51 billion yuan ($8 billion) market, with outstanding loans of 46 billion yuan as of Sept 30, 2015. The non-performing loan rate is 2.85 percent, according to Mao Wanyuan, an official at the China Banking Regulatory Commission.

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