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Yuan credit cards double in 2011
The number of RMB credit cards issued in the city more than doubled last year, even though Macau and Beijing authorities are still negotiating a wider use of the yuan in the local financial system.
According to official statistics released by the financial regulator yesterday, the number of personal credit cards in circulation reached a new record high of almost 527,400 at the end of December, up by 4.8 percent from the third quarter of 2011.
Most cards are still issued in pataca, with about 398,700 in circulation during the last quarter, up by 3.5 percent. But it’s RMB cards that are growing the fastest, up by 18.1 percent to more than 61,900.
During 2011, the number of yuan-denominated cards more than doubled, much faster than MOP cards (up by 18.1 percent) or HKD cards (up by 11.4 percent). In fact, at the end of December, RMB cards were close to matching the 66,800 Hong Kong-dollar cards in circulation.
If the current trend remains unchanged, there could already be more yuan-demoninated cards than HKD cards in Macau by end of next month. That would cap a tremendous growth for RMB cards, which four years ago were at just 7,300.
Last November a delegation from the Monetary Authority of Macau (AMCM) met with China’s central bank to discuss ways to widen the use of yuan in the MSAR financial system.
Talks with the People’s Bank of China were aimed at promoting Macau as a yuan settlement platform for trade and other economic activities between China and the Portuguese-speaking countries.
In addition, the possibility of including yuan-denominated assets, including inter-bank bonds, into the future MSAR fiscal reserve was also raised, “with a view to securing an investment channel for secure and stable investment return”.
The fiscal reserve system was enacted in January and the government had 45 days to allocate estimated funds of MOP 152.9 billion. AMCM will run the system.
At the end of December, credit card turnover grew 10.3 percent quarter-to-quarter to MOP 2.8 billion, also a new record. Yet the delinquency ratio – the percentage of credit payments overdue for more than three months – slid to 0.82 percent from 0.98 percent in the third quarter.
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