800 mln bank cards in China, credit to grow within the next 2-3 years

While ATM and POS numbers remain low, IDC estimates place the number of bank cards in China at approximately 800 mln, but the large majority is rarely used. Credit cards make up only a tiny fraction of this total, but are expected to see significant growth in the next 2-3 years. This growth will provide an important catalyst for domestic consumption, but in the absence of a credit check industry or consumer education, credit growth could lead to future problems. The credit-related problems that plagued Korea and other markets around the world could pale in comparison to a future consumer credit crisis in the world’s most populous country. The burden of massive consumer defaults on top of the acknowledged corporate non-performing loans could severely harm China’s economy and threaten social stability.

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