Credit Card Business in Macao and Its Credit Risk Management

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1 Credit Card Business in Macao and Its Credit Risk Management P.S. Un Research and Statistics Department, Monetary Authority of Macao Abstract Credit card holdings and loans have experienced rapid growth in Asian economies in the past decade. As a fast growing segment of unsecured finance, credit card lending business improves the profitability of financial institutions but poses new risks to the financial system. This paper aims to analyse the associated credit risk of credit card lending. Prudential measures are introduced as reference for financial institutions involving in the business. This paper applies statistics and information available as at 27 June

2 1. Introduction Past experience shows that the quality of credit institutions credit card portfolios mirrors the economic environment in which they operate. There is often a strong correlation between economic downturn and deterioration in the quality of credit card portfolios, especially in developed financial systems. The deterioration could turn serious if credit institutions have relaxed their credit underwriting criteria and risk management standard as a result of intense competition in the market. It is therefore important for the banks involving in credit card lending activities to maintain prudent practices, particularly when the macroeconomic environment turns gloomy. This paper aims to examine a growing area of banking business credit card in Macao, identify its associated credit risk, and introduce common prudential practices towards risk management in the unsecured loan business. Features of credit card business of Macao and its performance in comparison with other economies are presented in the next section. Section 3 highlights common practices of credit risk management for credit card business, and finally, concluding remarks are presented in Section Features and Performance Since consistent aggregate data on credit card business in Macao are only available from the second half of 2006, analysis and international comparison of credit card business in the SAR are inevitably preliminary. Credit card statistics of jurisdictions including Australia, Hong Kong, Chinese Taiwan and New Zealand are collected for international comparison. These jurisdictions release credit card statistics on a regular basis though some required data are missing in individual jurisdictions

3 In the years , credit card business expanded steadily in Macao. As at the end of March 2008, the total number of credit cards in circulation reached 340,043, while credit card receivables amounted to MOP900.0 million. Annual double-digit growth was observed for credit card lending in the past year (Chart 1). Number Chart 1: Number of Credit Cards and Credit Card Recivables of Macao, MOP Million 350, , , , , , , , Q Q Q Q Q Q4 1, Number of Credit Card (Left Scale) Credit Card Receivables (Right Scale) Source: Monetary Authority of Macao (AMCM). On international comparison, however, the utilisation rate, defined as the ratio of credit card receivables to credit limit granted by card issuing banks, stayed at levels around 15%, which was significantly lower than the corresponding rates in Australia and New Zealand (Table 1). A relatively low use of credit cards as a form of cashless payment and of debt was observed in Macao. As a broad measure of the popularity of credit card usage in the economy, credit card receivables as a percentage of gross domestic product (GDP) in Macao remained stable, centering at around 2.2% in 2007 (Table 2). Compared with Hong Kong in particular, Macao showed a less popular use of credit card as a means of payments and finance

4 Table 1: The Utilisation Rate (%), Macao Australia New Zealand 2006 Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Notes: 1. The utilisation rate is defined as credit card receivables to credit limit granted by card-issuing banks; 2. Total credit granted of Hong Kong and Chinese Taiwan are not available. Sources: AMCM; Reserve Bank of Australia; Reserve Bank of New Zealand. Table 2: Credit Card Receivables as a Percentage of GDP, Macao Australia Chinese Taiwan Hong Kong New Zealand 2006 Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Notes: GDP for Australia, Hong Kong and New Zealand are preliminary estimates; Q1 GDP for Chinese Taiwan and Macao are preliminary estimates. Sources: AMCM; Statistics and Census Service of Macao (DSEC); Census and Statistics Department of Hong Kong; Hong Kong Monetary Authority; Research Bank of Australia; Research Bank of New Zealand; Statistics New Zealand; Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting & Statistics of Chinese Taiwan; Financial Supervisory Commission of Chinese Taiwan. Credit card purchases as a percentage of GDP also reflected the same phenomenon. The percentage, which indicates the use of credit card as a means of payments, stayed at about 3.0% in our observation period while the corresponding percentages of Australia and Chinese Taiwan exceeded 10% (Table 3). On the other hand, Macao witnessed a rising ratio of credit card purchases to private consumption expenditure

5 As regards the level of the ratio, the SAR fell far behind Australia but was comparable to Chinese Taiwan (Table 4). Table 3: Credit Card Purchases as a Percentage of GDP, Macao Australia Chinese Taiwan 2006 Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Notes: GDP figures for Australia are preliminary; Q1 GDP for Chinese Taiwan and Macao are preliminary estimates; 3. Credit card purchases of Hong Kong and New Zealand are not available. Sources: AMCM; DSEC; Research Bank of Australia; Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting & Statistics of Chinese Taiwan; Financial Supervisory Commission of Chinese Taiwan. Table 4: Credit Card Purchases as a Percentage of Private Consumption Expenditure, Macao Australia Chinese Taiwan 2006 Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Notes: GDP for Australia are preliminary estimates; 2. Chinese Taiwan and Macao GDP figures of the first quarter of 2008 are preliminary; 3. Credit card purchases of Hong Kong and New Zealand are not available. Sources: AMCM; DSEC; Research Bank of Australia; Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting & Statistics of China Taiwan; Financial Supervisory Commission of Chinese Taiwan

6 As credit card cash advances incur high interest charges, cash withdrawals from credit card accounts normally happen when credit-card holders are in financial difficulty and other means of obtaining cash are exhausted (Reserve Bank of Australia 2005b). Even though the Macao economy has grown strongly and hence financial conditions for Macao residents should have correspondingly improved in recent years, the cash advance turnover saw strong growth, reaching MOP118.8 million in the first quarter of 2008, compared to MOP96.2 million in the same period last year. The cash advance to credit card turnover ratio was higher in Macao than in Australia and Chinese Taiwan, though Macao s ratio had stabilised in recent quarters (Table 5). Table 5: Cash Advance to Credit Card Turnover Ratio (%), Macao Australia Chinese Taiwan 2006 Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Note: Credit card turnover and cash advance of Hong Kong and New Zealand are not available. Sources: AMCM; DSEC; Research Bank of Australia; Directorate-General of Budget, Accounting & Statistics of China Taiwan; Financial Supervisory Commission of Chinese Taiwan. However, the quality of credit card loans and advances remained high in Macao, as its delinquency ratio and rollover ratio apparently stayed at low levels. The delinquency ratio, i.e. the ratio of credit card receivables that have been overdue for 90 days or more (without making minimum repayment) to total credit card receivables, slid steadily to 0.34% at the end of March 2008 from 0.61% in the fourth quarter of Macao s ratio was slightly higher than that of Hong Kong but much lower than that of Chinese Taiwan (Table 6). The rollover amount, which represents borrowing by cardholders and a significant source of interest income for banks engaged in credit card lending activities, reached MOP403.0 million at the end of March The

7 rollover amount made up 44.8% of credit card receivables while the rollover ratio was lower at 33.8% in Hong Kong. Table 6: Delinquency Ratio and Rollover Ratio (%), Delinquency Ratio Rollover Ratio Macao Hong Kong Chinese Taiwan Macao Hong Kong 2006 Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Q Notes: 1. Delinquent amount refers to part of credit card receivables that has been passed due over 90 days or more; 2. Delinquency ratio defines as the percentage of delinquent amount to credit card receivables; 3. Delinquency amount of Chinese Taiwan refers to part of credit card receivables that have been passed due for more than three months but less than half year; 4. Rollover amount refers to the amount for which the cardholders have not fully repaid the statement balance but have at least made the minimum amount of payment required; 5. Rollover Ratio measures the percentage of rollover amount to credit card receivables; 6. Delinquency ratios of Australia and New Zealand are not available; 7. Rollover ratios of Australia, Chinese Taiwan and New Zealand are not available. Sources: AMCM; Hong Kong Monetary Authority; Financial Supervisory Commission of Chinese Taiwan. Overall, it is observed that credit card usage is not regarded as high in Macao among selected jurisdictions but local cardholders appear to be more inclined to withdraw cash from their credit card accounts notwithstanding high interest rates for credit card advances. On the other hand, the average quality of Macao banks credit card loan portfolios continues to stay at comfortably high levels as evidenced by a low delinquency ratio. 3. Credit Risk in Credit Card Business Credit card refers to a plastic card granted to a cardholder with a credit limit for purchases or obtaining cash advances. Credit card cardholders are allowed to

8 purchase on credit over a period of time while credit card purchases usually become payable after a free credit period. Card-issuing banks start to charge interest on the unpaid balance after the payment is due. Credit risk occurs to banks in credit card lending. It arises when a bank pays a merchant acquirer for a credit card payment transaction on behalf of the cardholder or cash is withdrawn with credit cards. The credit risk remains as long as the cardholder has not fully repaid the entire amount of the outstanding balance either by purchase or cash advance. As credit card debt is an unsecured line of credit, repayment depends primarily upon the repayment ability of cardholders. Since it is common for bank customers to hold more than one credit cards from different issuers and only minimum monthly payment on outstanding balance is required, this provides ample opportunity for cardholders to overextend their loans. Credit risk can thus be increased considerably if banks expand their credit card business through aggressive solicitation programmes but fail to assess and manage the associated credit risks. In addition, relaxed underwriting standards and inadequate account management could expose banks to credit risk, particularly in times of economic downturn. Supervisory policy manuals of some jurisdictions such as the United States and Hong Kong provide useful references for banks on credit risk management associated with credit card business. They cover underwriting standards, documentation requirements, credit limit assignment, account management and provision practice which are established for monitoring and controlling the credit risk associated with credit card lending activities. 3.1 Underwriting standards and documentation requirements Each application solicited should be thoroughly assessed against prudent underwriting criteria. Sufficient information about the credit card applicant should be collected for the purpose of assessing the creditworthiness and financial ability of credit card

9 applicants. Details of personal particulars 1, occupation 2 and credit references 3 should be required. Other relevant information about the creditworthiness of applicants is also essential. Credit card issuing banks should verify the historical credit record about cancellation of credit card, default payment and overdue payment record of each applicant. They should check if any bankruptcy order has been made against the applicant or the applicant is in the process of petitioning for bankruptcy. The sharing and use of positive customer credit data are beneficial for both financial institutions and customers if the mechanism is made available. In the case of Hong Kong, with this data sharing mechanism, the financial institutions have experienced reduction in default rate and over-indebtedness level while the customers with good credit record have benefited from lower interest rate and easier access to credit (Hong Kong Monetary Authority 2006a). Completeness of documentation 4 is required for each application to screen out unqualified applications in the underwriting procedure. Banks can screen out applicants with unfavourable credit attributes with supporting documents and credit reference. It is important for banks to maintain prudent underwriting standards at all times so that their credit card portfolios can withstand the effect of economic downturns when undesirable trends in lending, such as the edging up of delinquency and charge-off ratios and the rising trend in bankruptcies, are more likely to take place (Singapore Department of Statistics 2004). Prudent underwriting standards are highly recommended for credit card business if the sharing and use of consumer credit data are not available. 3.2 Assigning credit limit There should be a maximum credit limit for each cardholder to control his/her total unsecured credit exposure. The amount of credit limit should be based on the credit 1 Name, date of birth, identity card number, residential address, etc. are most commonly required personal information. 2 Occupation details include name and address of present employer, years of service with present employers and monthly or annual income. 3 Credit references include credit information such as number of credit cards on hand, credit card limit granted and other credit commitment or facilities, etc. 4 Supporting documents include (i) identity proof, (ii) address proof, and (iii) income proof

10 profile of the cardholder and by reference to the cardholder s monthly income. Banking relationship, total asset balance or amount of deposits held would also be regarded as supportive factors. Other considerations in assigning credit limits include the prevailing economic condition, job stability and possible risk exposure of cardholders (Hong Kong Monetary Authority 2006b). Financial ability should be the essential justification for assigning higher credit limit. 3.3 Account management The financial situation of a credit-card holder could alter from time to time. Banks should identify such changes by various means. Increase and decrease of credit line, card renewal, interest rate charged and over limit authorisation are examples of account management activity. In order to administer their credit card portfolios, prudent banks generally adopt an account management system for risk identification and portfolio segmentation. Card-issuing banks have to review constantly the repayment ability of cardholders especially when the credit limit is extended and more than one credit cards are granted to a cardholder. Sufficient data and information are essential to identify, measure, manage and control the credit risk of each account. Cardholders are classified into different risk segments according to their consumption and repayment history (Hong Kong Monetary Authority 2006b). Adjustments on credit terms can be based on the credit risk profile of cardholders. Account management decisions such as contraction or expansion on credit line limit, card renewals or termination, expansion of grace period and authorisation on over limit are decisions concerning credit card account management. For cardholders with repayment problems, risk control measures such as reduction of credit limit, freezing the remaining available credit limit or termination of credit card from further transactions should be launched. In addition, regular performance tracking reports are helpful in credit risk management for monitoring the performance of the credit portfolio. A comprehensive report, which covers the areas of revenue and profitability, utilisation, delinquency, provision, charge-offs and bankruptcy of different segments of the profile for regular

11 review, forms an effective way to compare and analyse the performance of different segments of cardholders. 3.4 Provision Adequate provisions on delinquent accounts should be in place to absorb potential losses from credit card portfolios. An established scheme for minimum specific provisions, which is widely enforced by financial regulators, should be strictly observed for all delinquent accounts, based on their respective balances net of the realizable value of any existing and duly formalised tangible collateral. Meanwhile, the actual delinquency and charge-off ratios for different target customer segments in the credit card portfolio and for the portfolio as a whole should be regularly monitored. Any significant deviation from the projected trend and performance should be analysed and explained. 4. Concluding Remarks Compared with selected jurisdictions, Macao shows a higher ratio of cash advance to credit card turnover, indicating more frequent use of expensive credit by credit-card holders, while the development in the delinquency ratio suggests a stable and improving financial status of overall credit card loan portfolio of Macao banks. However, a prudential management practice is recommended while sharing of consumer credit data has not yet been made available in the SAR. It should be noted that the scope for our study is limited owing to the lack of relevant statistics. In Macao, a comprehensive credit card survey only began in 2006, while comparable statistics in other jurisdictions are largely unavailable. It is, however, our sincere objective that this study can offer some fundamental information and analyses about credit card business for both local banks and financial supervisory authorities

12 References Black, S. and D. Morgan (1998), Risk and the Democratization of Credit Card, Federal Reserve Bank of New York Research Paper, No. 9815, June. Comptroller of the Currency Administrator of National Banks (1998), Credit Card Lending Comptroller s Handbook, March. He, D., E. Yao and K. Li (2005), The Growth of Consumer Credit in Asia, Hong Kong Monetary Authority Quarterly Bulletin, March, Hong Kong Monetary Authority (2006a), Benefits of Sharing Positive Consumer Credit Data, Hong Kong Monetary Authority Quarterly Bulletin, March, Hong Kong Monetary Authority (2006b), Supervisory Policy Manual Credit Card Business, January. Kang, T.S. and G. Ma (2007), Recent Episodes of Credit Card Distress in Asia, BIS Quarterly Review, June, Lai, K. and R. Lam (2002), The Nexus of Consumer Credit, Household Debt Service and Consumption, Hong Kong Monetary Authority Quarterly Bulletin, November, Reserve Bank of Australia (2005a), Banking Fees in Australia, Reserve Bank Bulletin, May, Reserve Bank of Australia (2005b), Payment System Reform: The Australian Experience, Reserve Bank Bulletin, May,

13 Reserve Bank of Australia (2005c), Merchant Services Fees and Market Shares for Credit and Charge Cards, Reserve Bank Bulletin, August, Singapore Department of Statistics (2004), Consumer Credit of Singapore Households: Recent Trends & Developments, Occasional Paper on Economic Statistics, July. Stinson, A. and M. Wolyncewics (2003), Recent Developments in the Payment System, Reserve Bank of New Zealand Bulletin, March, Vol. 66, No. 1, Yoo, P. S. (1997), Charging up a Mountain of Debt: Accounting for the Growth of Credit Card Debt, Federal Reserve Bank of St. Louis Review, Vol. 79, No. 2, March/April,

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