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Emerging Europe: Home Credit sets its sights on Asia’s shoppers

Czech group Home Credit has ridden the consumer finance roller coaster in Russia over the last decade. Now it’s betting big on Asia and even taking on China’s online retail giants.

Home-Credit-600
Home Credit has more than 11 million customers in China and leads the
market in point-of-sale loans

The prospect of financing China’s legions of eager shoppers has bankers around the world salivating. Yet so far foreign firms have struggled to get a foothold in the country’s still-young consumer-finance market.

A notable exception is Home Credit, a Czech group better known in the west for its operations in Russia. In 2010, when China’s banking regulator issued the first four pilot licences for private-sector consumer finance operators, Home Credit was the only foreign company to make the cut. 

Today, the group has more than 11 million customers in China and is the market leader in point-of-sale (PoS) loans. Both its client base and loan portfolio have more than doubled in each of the last two years, with net lending topping €5.3 billion at the end of 2016.

How did a relatively obscure firm from central Europe manage to steal a march on global banks with far larger balance sheets and longer track records in consumer finance?

Chief executive Jiri Smejc highlights several factors that have given Home Credit an edge over its rivals in China.

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