Bids to revive credit-card spending

Economy February 04, 2014 00:00

By Sucheera Pinijparakarn
The Na

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Credit card providers have launched aggressive campaigns to boost tourist spending, which has been pinched by the political polarisation.

Chatchai Payuhanaveechai, executive vice president of Kasikornbank, said yesterday that consumers are rarely travelling in the country and abroad as they aren’t in the mood due to the political uncertainty.
KBank’s credit card spending on tourism last year expanded by 22 per cent.
The bank allocated over Bt100 million to bring out a new campaign for 2014, “Fly Charter Flights with K-Credit Card”, offering domestic round-trip air tickets for 1,000 points plus Bt1,000 each to. Starting on March 7, special charter flights will be available every Friday until the end of the year, with more than 16,000 seats on offer to multiple locations. 
The bank targets 715,000 new credit cards issued this year with spending growth of 35 per cent to Bt356 billion.
KBank is also stimulating overseas travel by its cardholders by waiving interest charges on three months of instalments for spending overseas.
“The baht’s depreciation might not convince people to go abroad, so the zero rate on instalments for three months could fan their interest,” he said.
Thakorn Piyapan, managing director of Krungsri Consumer, an unsecured-loan lender under Bank of Ayudhya, said the bank will roll out a domestic tourism spending campaign next month. It plans to kick off zero interest instalments in April, which is the beginning of the tourism season in other countries.
The weaker baht does not encourage travel abroad, so a campaign was needed to help drive spending.
Krungsri will also strongly focus on Japanese dining at restaurant chains, hotels and Japanese destinations in Bangkok such as Thong Lor as part of its strategy after welcoming Bank of Tokyo-Mitsubishi UFJ as a major shareholder.
Krungsri Consumer targets total spending growth of 10 per cent to Bt300 billion this year, which is conservative as it is worrying about the rising debt service ratio in the financial system.
Credit card spending last month at Krungsri Consumer rose 5 per cent, which was below the target of 10 per cent due mainly to the political riots. Credit card spending at shopping malls and hypermarkets showed significant cutbacks.
Krungsri Consumer will expand its customer base into the provinces in line with retail partners such as Tesco Lotus and Home Product Centre. 
Its cardholder base is 60:40 Bangkok and provinces but in terms of new credit cards issued, upcountry is 50 per cent, he added.
Pakorn Partanapat, executive vice president of KBank, said the bank is also moving into the provinces by joining forces with merchants upcountry to offer campaigns to attract both local and tourist credit cardholders.
“We are attempting to boost the ratio of credit cardholders in the provinces from 30 per cent,” he said.