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January credit card spending hits 3rd highest level

2018/03/17 15:11:23

CNA file photo

Taipei, March 17 (CNA) Credit card spending in Taiwan for January rose to the third highest level in history due to strong consumption ahead of the Lunar New Year holiday, which fell in February, according to the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC).

Citing data, the FSC, the top financial regulator in Taiwan, said credit card spending on the island totaled NT$248.3 billion (US$8.47 billion), up 7.86 percent from a month earlier and also up 23.53 percent from a year earlier.

The January spending only lagged behind the NT$295.1 billion recorded in June 2017 and NT$263.5 billion registered in June 2016, the FSC said.

It noted the latest monthly credit card spending was the highest-ever for the month of January and attributed the large amount of purchasing to many consumers rushing to pay their expenses for trips planned for the Lunar New Year holiday, said Chuang Shiu-yuan (莊琇媛), deputy director of the FSC's Banking Bureau.

In addition, the higher spending also reflected the needs from consumers to pay their insurance bills and buy goods for the Lunar New Year holiday of Feb. 15-20, Chuang said.

Due to higher consumption, January credit card spending made that month the ninth consecutive month for credit cardholders' monthly expenses to top the NT$200 billion mark, according to the FSC.

In terms of individual banks, Cathay United Bank saw spending through credit cards issued by the bank totaling NT$48 billion in January, the highest among the credit issuing banks in Taiwan, the FSC data showed.

CTBC Bank came in second after its credit card customers spent NT$37.3 billion in January, the data indicated.

However, the number of credit cards issued by CTBC Bank in January was the highest of all the banks in Taiwan, at 81,000, ahead of Cathay United Bank, which issued 73,000 credit cards that month, the FSC said.

As of January, a total of 41.87 million credit cards issued by 34 banks were circulating in Taiwan, up 0.34 percent from a month earlier and also up 3.43 percent from a year earlier, the FSC said.

Despite the increase in credit card spending in January, the FSC said, the non-performing ratio of the 34 banks in terms of credit card spending stood at 0.23 percent on average as of the end of the month, unchanged from the end of December, according to the FSC.

Meanwhile, the bad loan ratio even fell 0.02 percentage points in January from a year earlier, the FSC said.

That meant while spending on credit was high, consumers were still able to pay their credit card bills on time.

(By Huang Ya-chuan and Frances Huang)