Bank Negara Malaysia, the country's central bank, says it has reduced the annual interest rate to 15% per year from 18% for credit cardholders who fully repay their monthly card bills for 12 consecutive months. The bank also reduced to 17% the interest rate for some credit cardholders who have made on-time payments for 10 out of 12 months. The moves come after the bank cancelled the 20-day interest-fee period for credit cardholders who fail to repay their outstanding balances from the previous month (CardLine Global, 4 July). The bank is tweaking credit card interest rates as outstanding balances increase in Malaysia, reflecting the growing level of comfort that consumers have with card debt, Sunil Devmurari, an analyst with United Kingdom-based research company Euromonitor International, tells CardLine Global. "The primary goal would be to reduce total credit card outstanding values within Malaysia over time and ensure that the quality of credit card accounts are healthy," he says. Malaysia has some 2.7 million credit cardholders.

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