New Delhi: Some good news for those seeking consumer loans, a group that was hit hard when the three major players in the business - Citifinancial, GE-Money and ICICI Bank - drew back from financing consumer goods this May.
Moreover, the consumer durables segment saw a rise in prices. It was a double whammy for consumers as the Reserve Bank of India raised key interest rates three times in two months, leading to a significant rise in the cost of borrowing.
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Banks and financial institutions decided to slow down consumer lending due to rising instances of defaults. Consumer loans also have a high cost of operations due to the short tenure, small ticket size and a tiny profit margin.
Banking experts say once the consumer finance business takes off it gives a high return on equity. Many say they may use this channel to market insurance policies, mutual funds and mortgages.
Bankers say the method of disbursal of consumer durable loans may undergo a change. The loans may be offered to those who hold a credit card. A bank branch, instead of a direct sales agent, may handle the disbursal operations. “Some would say we much rather offer consumer finance if you already have a banking product with us rather than your own product. So I think some of the filters of who you offer this product to and how do you offer this may change,” says managing director and chief executive officer of Deutsche Bank. Chadha says he believes consumer durable loans remains an attractive product in the long term.
Though bankers feel a small part of consumer loans may be taken care of by credit cards, they are two completely different segments. Since the profile of a consumer loan customer is very different from the one who is issued a credit card. Many bankers say there is need for a regulated credit bureau, greater automation of credit records and unique identification numbers that make it easy for banks to ascertain credit worthiness of consumers.