As digital payments, loans pick up, signs of stress remain

Both digital payment volumes and demand for consumption credit are showing early signs of recovery. But as lenders advance more money, repayment trends are showing early signs of stress.

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By 

Pratik Bhakta

September 13, 2021

5 Min Read

As India races past the grips of the deadly second wave of Covid-19, some early trends point to consumption picking up in different segments of the economy.

July and August were highlight months for digital payments at consumer outlets and consumption credit, fintech industry executives said. Sectors such as food and healthcare are operating at almost the same levels as January, and the lifestyle category is recovering fast too, said the chief executive of a card payments company. UPI transactions in August doubled to 3.2 billion from 1.6 billion in August last year.

Credit demand for fintechs has improved, but is still lower than pre-pandemic highs, said the founder of a digital lending startup. Demand for credit among high-income consumers has clawed back to 60% pre-pandemic levels. But “lower income categories, or blue-collar working categories, are still under stress and lenders are extremely cautious against taking exposure there,” he said.

As for personal borrowings, 11.5 billion loans originated in the fourth quarter of fiscal year 2021, improving from less than a billion in the fourth quarter of FY 2020, show data from credit bureau Crif High Mark.

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