April 19, 2014

FCA to Probe Credit-Card Firms’ Treatment of Fragile Borrowers

The U.K.’s financial markets watchdog will review how credit-card companies treat distressed borrowers as it takes over responsibility for regulating consumer credit.

The review will start “at the end of the year,” and also study competition in the 150 billion-pound ($249 billion) credit-card industry, the Financial Conduct Authority said in an e-mailed statement.

The FCA, which took over responsibility for regulating consumer credit from the Office of Fair Trading this month, is toughening its stance on firms pursuing distressed borrowers. The regulator is starting a crackdown on payday lenders after opening an investigation into their debt-collection practices last month.
Story: Most Payday Loans Go to Those With Old Payday Debts

“The key priority here has to be those in the most vulnerable circumstances,” Martin Wheatley, the FCA’s chief executive officer, said in a speech in London today. “Many of whom are struggling to manage their credit card commitments, as well as other bills.”

For some firms the “regulatory interest will be greater than others because they present more risk to more people in more ways,” Wheatley said.

“And this is one of the reasons why it is an imperative for the consumer credit industry to take a step back in 2014 and consider, again, how it engages with consumers in vulnerable circumstances,” he said.