Credit card penetration rates may begin rising again in China, as the government deregulates the industry and lowers the cost of card transactions for borrowers and merchants. In a survey by Financial Times Confidential Research, urban respondents prefer to pay by mobile phone, but are definitely still using their credit cards. The 30 to 35-year-old group owned, on average, 1.97 cards each and spent Rmb7,568 ($1,100) with them last month. And while 18 to 24-year-olds had less than half as many cards and debt, they demonstrated a greater comfort living with debt, opting to pay balances later. Greater borrowing among younger consumers is important to help lower China’s high household savings rate and support economic rebalancing. To encourage this, the People’s Bank of China is liberalizing the card market, even as it increases oversight of third-party payment platforms, which have thrived in a regulatory vacuum, and increasing the availability of credit scoring data, which has hobbled card uptake.
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