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Mexico: Wary welcome for the rise of the sofomes

Gonzalo Palafox, Su Casita

"Mexico lacks a proper clture concerning personal finance"
Gonzalo Palafox, Su Casita

Hundreds of thousands of Mexicans are borrowing from a new kind of creditor, called a sofom, but experts are concerned that the unregulated lenders are charging extortionate rates of interest. In July 2006, a change in the law enabled sociedades financieras de ojeto multiple (sofomes) – financial companies that provide all classes of credit, including mortgages, car loans, personal loans, bridging loans, department store loans, credit cards, commercial loans, leasing, and microcredit – to be created.

Last year, 383 sofomes were set up compared with only 43 during 2006, according to Asofom (the Mexican association of sofomes). This year, a further 250 are expected to be established. They are expected to have about 200,000 clients and to grant total credit of Ps3.5 billion ($340 million). Some of the lenders charge annualized interest rates of more than 60%, while Mexico’s benchmark interest rate, the Interbank Reference Rate, stands at 7.9% and the country has inflation of about 4%.

Juan Carlos Sierra, president of Asofom, which has almost 100 sofomes as members, says: "The first sofom was established on July 24 2006.

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