Chile economy: Consumer credit rises as access for the poor improves

Event

According to the latest data, Chile’s total consumer credit has nearly tripled in GDP terms in the past two decades, from 3.6% in 1992 to 10% of GDP in 2012, with loans outstanding now exceeding US$25bn.

Analysis

The deepening of Chile’s credit markets has been a socially-inclusive process, with greater segments of the poor gaining access to credit. The whole of the fourth quintile of the population by income and as much as 77% of the poorest quintile enjoy access to the local financial market, according to the government’s Fondo de Solidaridad e Inversión Social (Fosis, the solidarity and social investment fund).

According to the Asociación de Bancos e Instituciones Financieas (ABIF, the association of banks and financial institutions), a total of 800,000 new current accounts and as many as 10m sight accounts (with associated interest-paying saving accounts) were opened between 2005 and 2012.

The state-owned commercial bank BancoEstado has been by far the main player in the process of broadening access to bank services thanks to its easily available Cuenta RUT sight and savings accounts and its network of 10,000 Cajas Vecinas (“neighbourhood cash points”), which are operated by local shops on behalf of BancoEstado across the country, reducing geographical barriers to banking services. This system channels the government’s pension payments and its various Chile Solidario social protection benefits, simplifying life for beneficiaries.

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