BEIJING, May 23 (Xinhua) -- The growth in the number of credit cards in circulation in China slowed in the first quarter of this year, while defaults posted a slight gain, the central bank said yesterday.
Credit cards in circulation rose to 290 million at the end of March, an increase of 20 percent year on year. The rise was 5.7 percentage point lower than a year earlier.
The weaker growth extended a slowdown in the past three years as China's credit card market is becoming mature, said an industry report released by the China Banking Association earlier this month.
But the default rate rose slightly in the first three months.
Defaults of more than half a year rose to 12 billion yuan (US$1.9 billion) at the end of the first quarter, 9 percent higher than the end of December.
The default ratio rose 0.2 percentage point to 1.6 percent but it was still manageable, the central bank said.