Consumer loans (CLs) by universal commercial (U/KBs) and thrift banks (TBs) were up at P735 billion as of the end of the first quarter of 2014 on the back of a rise in auto loans during the period, central bank data shows.
In a statement on Tuesday, Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas (BSP) said that consumer loans as of end-March stood 13.6 percent higher than the P647 billion posted a year earlier.
Consumer lending also sustained the quarter-on-quarter trend since 2008, as loans as of end-March reflect a 2-percent increase from the P721.54 billion as of end-December 2013.
The central bank attributed the increase in consumer loans to strong demand for vehicles during the quarter “leading to the Holy Week and the summer season.” Auto loans reached P194 billion, up 16.3 percent from the year-earlier level.
Real estate and credit card loans grew at a slower pace during the period.
The central bank said the ratio of the banks’ non-performing consumer loans to total consumer loans slightly eased to 5.2 percent, as shown by end-March numbers, from 5.3 percent a quarter earlier despite an increase in the consumer finance portfolio.
The regulator recognized banks’ efforts to maintain their stability, noting that commercial and thrift banks have set aside 70.5 percent of their non-performing CLs as a safety net against consumer credit risks.
“The Bangko Sentral ng Pilipinas looks into consumer financing by U/KBs and TBs as part of broader efforts to monitor the quality of the banking industry’s total loan portfolio. The maintenance of high loan quality is essential to achieving the BSP’s objective of fostering financial stability,” the BSP added.