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Metrobank sees slower consumer loan growth

METROPOLITAN Bank & Trust Co. sees slower growth in consumer loans next year as “revenge spending” following the coronavirus pandemic has started easing.

The bank still expects double-digit consumer loan growth in the mid-teens, but not as fast as the increases seen in 2022 and 2023, Metrobank Consumer Business Sector Head Ramon Jaime L.V. del Rosario told reporters on the sidelines of an event on Friday.

Consumer loan growth could be driven by new real estate projects in 2024, Mr. Del Rosario said. “Revenge spending” for travel has driven the increase in consumer credit this year, while expenses on food and shopping boosted the 2022 level, he added.

“Hopefully in the mortgage space, they’ll open up more projects. During the lockdowns, they didn’t launch new projects. They focused on completing the ones they started before opening new ones. But now, I see more,” Mr. Del Rosario said.

The normalization of travel and air fare levels in the near term could also drive consumption, Mr. Del Rosario noted.

“I think travel will normalize a little bit. Right now, while there’s still this element of revenge travel, these airlines, their prices have been up like crazy. I personally don’t think that’s sustainable. When that correction happens and their prices go down, then maybe even more people will travel after that,” he said.

For the rest of 2023, Metrobank is banking on increased holiday spending to drive consumer loan growth after it saw a flat third quarter, Mr. Del Rosario said. 

The lender has seen continued growth in credit card, home, and auto loans despite higher pricing due to elevated interest rates, he added.

“Even when there’s a rate hike, we’re able to compensate because it really comes from the deposit base. So, not so erratic. In fact, our take-up has been going up,” he said.

Their thrift banking arm Philippine Savings Bank has also seen a significant growth in auto loans, he added.

Metrobank saw its net income rise by 37.05% year on year to P10.42 billion in the second quarter, driven mainly by higher net interest earnings.

This brought its attributable net income for the first half to P20.9 billion.

The lender’s shares went down by 15 centavos or 0.28% to end at P54 apiece on Friday. — AMCS

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