Easy Buy, the Japanese personal loan provider, has set a lower loan growth target for 2013 than last year to reflect consumers' higher debt burden following the first-time car buyer scheme.
Chief executive Takeharu Uematsu said the company is projecting loan expansion of 6%, compared with 7% with an outstanding balance of 30 billion baht last year.
The falling target is in line with good risk management. Mr Uematsu expects the debt payment ability of Thai consumers will decline because of the higher debt burden mainly involving car loans.
"Under the scheme, buyers will start repaying in the second half of this year after the cars are delivered," he said.
"Now until then, however, they will have more expenses concerning their new cars and that will limit their debt service ability."
Thailand's car sales this year and next year are expected to fall from the record 1.43 million units in 2012. It will lower the auto industry's capacity and may affect employment, Mr Uematsu said.
As a result, Easy Buy will pay more attention to asset quality and risk management this year. Its non-performing loans stand at a satisfactory level at below 2% of its loan portfolio.
Thailand's overall consumption is expected to be strong in line with the country's positive economic momentum.
Easy Buy's 2013 business strategy will focus mainly on the provincial market with a plan to open nine branches upcountry to add to its 87-strong network nationwide.
The Northeast and border provinces are the key strategic areas in accordance with stronger economic growth, Mr Uematsu said.
The company aims to add 225,000 new customers this year to its customer base of around 2 million accounts, many held by office workers who earn 9,000 baht per month.
Monthly incomes of the company's client base average about 13,000 baht.
Easy Buy requires customers to have a minimum income of 7,000 baht per month, but loan applications from this segment are generally automatically rejected under its risk management system.
"We are considering an adjustment of the minimum salary from 7,000 baht to 10,000 baht, but it has not been finalised yet," Mr Uematsu said.
"With the higher minimum wage of 300 baht per day across the country and a rising salary base, the minimum income of our targeted customers will increase."
About the author
- Writer: Somruedi Banchongduang
Position: Business Reporter