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Czech consumer finance group seeks to ride local boom

By ZHONG NAN and REN XIAOJIN | China Daily | Updated: 2017-02-20 08:30

Home Credit Consumer Finance Co, the Czech Republic-based international consumer finance provider, will expand and add two call centers in China with more than 10,000 employees as the country is seeing a boom in consumption upgrading, said a senior executive.

Petr Krumphanzl, chief operations officer of Home Credit Consumer Finance Co, said that after the trial operation proved to be a success in Tianjin, "enlarging our Tianjin facility is urgent for our business strategy in China". Home Credit plans to boost the size of its employees from 2,000 to 3,500 at its Tianjin call center by the end of June. Established in 2010 and 2014 respectively, its call centers in Wuhan and Changsha currently are supported by more than 6,000 employees.

However, Krumphanzl didn't disclose the locations for another two call centers planned to be built in the country sooner or later. The company had 63,725 employees in China covering 312 cities with 140,216 sales outlets by the end of 2016.

Consumption has accounted for 64.6 percent of China's GDP in 2016, according to the National Bureau of Statistics. This trend has suggested bright prospects for consumer finance in China.

Home Credit provided 49 billion yuan ($7 billion) of loans in 2016, with 1 million of contracts being approved each month. Lured by the huge potential, the group is planning to have five call centers by the end of 2017. It entered China as the first foreign consumer finance lender in 2010. The centers are designed to serve different regions across the country.

As China is offering foreign capital more access to its financial services sector that includes accounting and auditing firms, financial institutions and stock brokerages, Krumphanzl said the call centers will provide more accessible, efficient and convenient 24-hour customer services. They will also focus on the development of both online and offline businesses.

Assisted by flexible government policies released in January to further attract foreign capital, Home Credit, which particularly specializes in emerging markets such as China and India, is expected to stimulate consumption, especially outside the first-tier cities.

Home Credit found that the first-time users of its loan service have made up a dominating majority of its total clients, who live across various small and medium cities, towns and counties and are not usually targeted by traditional bank loan services.

"Foreign companies have discovered that market demand in China is changing as consumers and companies want to buy more high-value-added products, and that there is surging demand for the service industry in the country," said Wang Zhile, a senior researcher at the Beijing-based Chinese Academy of International Trade and Economic Cooperation.

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