Consumer use of credit cards in Macau is on the rise after spending in casinos and on luxury expenses dropped during the worldwide economic slowdown.

“However, equally worrying is the rise in delinquent amounts, perhaps a function of the times,” an official for the Monetary Authority of Macau tells PaymentsSource.

Macau, also known as Macao, is one of the two regions of the People’s Republic of China, the other being Hong Kong. The territory’s industries include textiles and toys, but it also is well known for its tourism and gambling operations.

Credit card spending in the region during the first quarter rose 19.1%, to 1.81 billion pataca (US$222.3 million or 165.2 million euros) from 1.52 billion pataca during the same period last year. Consumers in Macau held about 368,124 credit cards as of March 31, up 11.3% from 330,774 a year earlier, according to the monetary authority.

Credit card delinquencies rose 27.6%, to 12.5 million pataca at the end of March from 9.8 million pataca a year earlier. Card repayments increased by 17.2%, to 1.98 billion pataca from 1.69 billion pataca.

Credit card receivables grew by 4.9%, to 1 billion pataca from 953 million pataca.

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