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UK watchdog concerned about long-term debt in credit card probe
November 3, 2015 / 7:31 AM / 2 years ago

UK watchdog concerned about long-term debt in credit card probe

The logo of the new Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) is seen at the agency's headquarters in the Canary Wharf business district of London April 1, 2013.Chris Helgren

LONDON (Reuters) - Britain's credit card market is not working well enough for customers in long-term debt, the country's financial regulator said on Tuesday, recommending a number of measures to make the market work better.

The Financial Conduct Authority (FCA) said last November that it would study how easy it is for customers in Europe's biggest credit card market to shop around, how card providers recover costs, and the extent of unaffordable debt.

The regulator said on Tuesday it was concerned about the scale of potentially problematic debt for consumers who are close to defaulting and said it wants to see better information for those shopping around.

"Our study suggests that the market is working reasonably well for most consumers, with a range of cards on offer. However, for a significant minority who are in persistent levels of debt, the market could potentially work better," said Christopher Woolard, director of strategy and competition.

The regulator said around 60 percent of adults in Britain have at least one credit card and there is an estimated 61 billion pounds in outstanding balances.

It said around 6.9 percent of cardholders, about two million people, were in arrears or have defaulted and another two million people may be struggling to repay their debt.

The FCA said it wants to see measures introduced to help consumers find the best deal and to ensure they can search the market without damaging their credit ratings.

It also called for measures to give consumers more control over credit limits and to encourage them to pay off debt quicker when they can afford to.

Reporting by Matt Scuffham; Editing by Sinead Cruise

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