Bankcard performance remains strong

Published: April 13, 2012 by Alan Ikemura

Up to this point, I’ve been writing about loan originations and the prospects and challenges facing bankcard, auto and real estate lending this year.  While things are off to a good start, I’ll use my next few posts to discuss the other side of the loan equation: performance.

If there’s one thing we learned during the post-recession era is that growth can have consequences if not managed properly.  Obviously real estate is the poster child for this phenomenon, but bankcards also realized significant and costly performance deterioration following the rapid growth generated by relaxed lending standards.

Today, bankcard portfolios are in expansion mode once again, but with delinquency rates at their lowest point in years.  In fact, loan performance has improved nearly 50% in the past three years through a combination of tighter lending requirements and consumers’ self-imposed deleveraging.   Lessons learned from issuers and consumers have created a unique climate in which growth is now balanced with performance.

Even areas with greater signs of payment stress have realized significant improvements.   For example, the South Atlantic region’s 4.2% 30+ DPD performance is 11% higher than the national average, but down 27% from a year ago.   Localized economic factors definitely play a part in performance, but the region’s higher than average origination growth from a broader range of VantageScore consumers could also explain some of the delinquency stress here.

And that is the challenge going forward: maintaining bankcard’s recent growth while keeping performance in check.  As the economy and consumer confidence improves, this balancing act will become more difficult as issuers will want to meet the consumer’s appetite for spending and credit.  Increased volume and utilization is always good for business, but it won’t be until the performance of these loans materializes that we’ll know whether it was worth it.

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