Some 905,000 Cambodians applied for consumer credit in the first half of this year compared with 670,000 over the same period last year, the latest report from the Credit Bureau of Cambodia (CBC) said.
This marks a 35 per cent growth in loan applications. The report showed that outstanding consumer loans reached $5.16 billion at the end of June. The same figure stood at $3.87 billion at the same time last year.
Despite the increase in consumer loans, CBC CEO Oeur Sothearoath said the sector has maintained healthy growth.
He said non-performing loan (NPL) rates have dropped significantly within the last year from 1.7 per cent at the end of last June to 1.3 per cent a month ago.
“The credit quality is better compared to previous quarters as the NPL [rate] has continued to drop significantly over the last four quarters,” he said.
Consumer credit encompasses personal finance loans, mortgages and credit cards. It represents about one-third of the total credit in the Kingdom’s financial industry.
Personal loans and mortgages accounted for $2.62 billion and $2.5 billion respectively, while credit card loans amounted to just $40 million.
Cambodian Microfinance Association executive director Yun Sovanna said on Tuesday that the growth in consumer credit was a positive sign, but that the growth of these types of loans should not necessarily be encouraged.
He said most consumer goods in the country were imported, so most money spent in this way left the Kingdom’s economy.
According to Sovanna, loans for personal finance and credit cards do not generate economic activity.
“Consumer loans are generally not used to boost production, so the increase in this type of loans should be discouraged,” he said.