Malaysian issuers last year approved 2.3 million, or 48%, of all applicants who applied for credit cards in 2009, an official from Bank Negara Malaysia tells PaymentsSource.

Bank Negara Malaysia, the country’s central bank, conducted checks last year on the processes financial institutions use to evaluate potential cardholders, according to the official. It found that banks have been stringent in their evaluation process.

Data for 2008 was not available because this was the first time the central bank conducted such a review.

The bank released the 2009 data last week in response to public complaints that card issuers were issuing cards to unworthy customers. The central bank will continue monitoring and taking action when necessary against card issuers issuing credit cards to unworthy customers, the official says.

Card applications likely will fall this year because of the credit card tax that took effect earlier this year, according to the official. In January, the Malaysian government imposed an “annual service charge” on credit cardholders as part of its 2010 budget (see story).

The tax amounts to 50 ringgits per year for principal credit and charge cards, and 25 ringgits for secondary cards.

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