Банкеръ Weekly



About 150,000 people received from Bulgarian banks in 2002 consumer credits of BGN600 or more. These data were provided by the agency for market research Market Test and were summerized in the beginning of 2003. (BGN600 was chosen as the lower threshold during the poll because the International Statistical Standards were followed. In Bulgaria, however, consumer credits most often begin from BGN500).The loans, borrowed by citizens from leasing houses and pawnshops have remained outside of the poll. Market Test has not researched either the consumer credits and elasing schemes for the purchase of a new car, about which the Union of Car Importers in Bulgaria provides comprehensive information.Market Test's poll included 6,506 citizens, aged between 15 and 70, which is a representative excerpt about the habits of 4,392,000 Bulgarians, living in all Bulgarian towns. The method of the poll is the international system for consumers' attitudes Target Group Index. The result showed that some 150,000 people - about 87,000 men and 63,000 women - drew bank credits.The sociologists have concluded that Bulgarians usually borrow comparatively small loans from banks. They spend the money to buy household electrical appliances, TV sets, audio and video systems, new furniture, etc. About 5,500 of the polled citizens needed the credits to pay for a new home. (According to an inquiry of the BANKER weekly, published in the previous issue, in the last months of 2002 more than 30% of all deals on the real estates market were effected with bank credits. Real estate agencies expect their share to reach 45-50% of the total number of deals in the country. Most of them are closed through mortgage credits.)Market Test's poll has established that the people borrowing money from banks most often buy kitchen equipment. Almost a quarter of the 150,000 people, who have closed contracts for consumer credits, have bought a new gas electric cooker, a fridge or a freezer. Some 10,000 were inspired by the numerous offers for kitchen furniture. The agency's data seem quite logical, having in mind the aggressive advertising policy of that kind of firms and the joint advertising campaigns, launched by kitchen furniture importers and dealers.In 2002 some 8,500 Bulgarians replaced the furniture in their living rooms, Market Test found. Some 5,000 people only spent the bank loans to buy a DVD of a video-recorder. This can be easily explained by the fact that with the develeopment of new technologies in video equipment, the priced dropped drastically and a DVD-recorder can be already bought at about BGN250.Market Test's poll established also that citizens aged between 35 and 44 are most inclined to borrow bank loans. About 60,000 of all credits in 2002 were allocated to people in that age group. Citizens aged between 25 and 34 are less inclined to draw bank loans. From all the 787,000 people in that age group some 39,000 succeeded to fulfil teh requirements and got loans. As it could be expected old people distrusted credits most of all. In addition, it's more difficult for them to fulfil the requirements of banks for the allocation of loans. The poll has showed that people with officially registered lower incomes have successfully applied for a consumer loan. About 12,000 people with a monthly income of BGN150-200 managed to prove their solvency in 2002. But most of those who succeeded to get a loan had a monthly income of BGN300-400 or BGN500-600. They are 40% of all approved applicants.What is more curious is that only 2,640 citizens with a monthly income exceeding BGN1,000 (according to teh poll) applied for and received loans. The explanation of this fact may be that they need financial assistance least of all, or their share in the country is the lowest.As it could be expected, the greatest number of loan contracts were closed by citizens in Sofia. Almost 22,000 of the capital city's population acknowledged in front of Market Test they got a bank credit of at least BGN600 in 2002. Plovdiv's citizens come next, and are followed by the people living in the nearby towns of Smolyan and Pazardjik with a total of 24,000 loans. The share of extended credits was the lowest in Northwestern Bulgaria. In Vidin, Vratza and Montana only 7,350 citizens maanged to prove their solvency, which confirms the high unemployment rate in that region.Less than 4% of the 150,000 people who received credits last year already had a bank account. From those who already had a bank deposit or a current account, the clients of SG EXPRESSBANK were the most numerous. The customers of Biochim Commercial Bank and of INGBank's Sofia branch come next.

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