Chinese banks have completed a database that links up information on consumer credit, a major move to better manage risks and cultivate a credit culture.
The People's Bank of China (PBOC), the nation's central bank, said yesterday that a personal credit information system that connects all local commercial banks and some rural credit co-operatives (RCCs) was formally established earlier this month.
"People with good credit records will now find it easier to get loans and get more favourable loan terms. It will provide a basis for banks to calculate risk," said Su Ning, deputy governor of the PBOC.
The system includes credit records for 340 million Chinese residents, and covers 97.5 per cent of all consumer loans granted by Chinese banks, worth 2.2 trillion yuan (US$271 billion). It is capable of generating personal credit reports that will provide information on a person's borrowing from different banks, including credit card transactions.
The lack of such a complete credit information system has up to now limited the ability of Chinese banks that want to increase consumer lending, particularly for cars and houses.
The high default ratio on auto loans, partly as a result of banks' inability to check a borrower's credit history, has already made them cautious in this promising business area.
The new system, which is expected to expand to include information from more RCCs, will also help the government tighten lending in the property sector by enabling banks to identify whether a loan is to finance a borrower's first or second property.
After operating on a trial basis last year, the system has gained popularity as daily requests from financial institutions jumped from around only 1,000 at the beginning of last year to around 110,000 at present, Su said.
Banks said around 10 per cent of loan applications from personal clients were turned down last year as a result of using the new system.
A broad range of information will eventually be included in the new system to include such things as tax payments, legal disputes and social security payments.
It is currently free to use, but the central bank said an appropriate fee might be imposed in the future to cover expenses, although the system is not intended to make a profit.
Browsing personal credit information or downloading personal credit reports will normally require authorization by the person concerned, and will be restricted to loans and guarantees, although banks will be able to check out existing borrowers.
Source: China Daily