Consumers in Thailand spent approximately 197.3 billion baht (US$6 billion or 3.9 billion euros) with their credit cards in the first quarter ended 31 March, up 14.4% from the 172.5 billion baht spent in the same period last year, according to Bangkok-based Kasikorn Research Center, a subsidiary of Kasikornbank Group. Outstanding balances at the end of March stood at about 174.7 billion baht, up 5% from 166.4 billion baht at the same time last year. Card debts at least three months overdue totaled about 6 billion baht at the end of March, up 22.4% from about 4.9 billion baht a year earlier. "The credit card-spending rise could be attributed partly to rising prices of goods over the previous year," a Kasikorn spokesperson tells CardLine Global. "Intense competition" among issuers in Thailand also has led to aggressive marketing campaigns designed to increase card spending, the spokesperson says. Thailand had more than 11.9 million credit cards in circulation as of February.

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