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CO-WRITTEN / PARTNER | Staff Reporter, Hong Kong

Primecredit: Affordable and Accessible Financial Support

PrimeCredit, established in 1977, has for the past 40 years focused on being a friendly ‘brother’ to Hong Kongers and their day-to-day financial needs. Since starting out as a provider of consumer durable and cash loans, the company has been through many changes both in itself and in its business environment, testament to the durability of its relationships with customers and ability to stand the tests of time.

Amongst several landmarks since its foundation, the company in 2005 became the first consumer lender to offer a credit card; in 2010 acquired GE Capital’s consumer finance business in Hong Kong; and in 2015 was acquired by a consortium comprising China Travel Services (CTS), specialist lender Pepper Australia, and York Capital Management.

“If you look back since 1977, the company has come a long way. We have gone through business changes, but what makes us most proud is we have come through the economic cycles and are still standing strong,” says Susanna Liew, PrimeCredit’s Chief Executive Officer. “Today, the top five personal loan lenders constitute about 80%-85% market share, and PrimeCredit is clearly the leader. We have grown with our customers.”

One of the key market environment changes has been the advent of more onerous regulation across financial services, but rather than fighting against this change, it’s something PrimeCredit, with its long-held focus on customer relationships, has welcomed.“The introduction of new conditions on money lenders issued in December last year to monitor the use of intermediaries, is a really good move,” Liew explains. “It is not just the lenders that have to be disciplined. Borrowers also have to be educated that they should not go to intermediaries and pay them a fee, which is entirely unfair to consumers.”

Staying ahead of the pack
PrimeCredit has also maintained its leading position despite the challenge of low interest rates over recent years bringing more competition. It is always conscious of this and other factors which impact its clients’ daily lives, enabling it to achieve market leadership despite the number of competing lenders increasing to more than 1,800 from just 700 five or six years ago.

As Liew puts it: “I have been blessed to see the cycles effect our industry, and have learned to expect the unexpected. We always keep on our toes to see the trends that are emerging, or any opportunity we have as a company to ourselves shape trends.”

The rise in property prices in Hong Kong over recent years is one trend the company has tracked, as it has given many people a propensity to spend rather than save. This is particularly true of the “after 90s” generation, who have a growing taste for dining, travel, meeting with friends and enjoying life.

But rather than just rush in offering everything this young generation desires, PrimeCredit always emphasises its services must have three characteristics – affordability, availability and accessibility – to ensure it grows with customers, not at their expense.“When customers need something, whether it is for the short- or long-term, they want to know a lender is helping them. We make sure every transaction or interaction with a customer makes their life more comfortable. It is part of our definition of affordability,” says Liew.

Availability, meanwhile, is testament to the longevity of PrimeCredit in the market. Where some lenders come and go, PrimeCredit has been around for its clients in good times and bad.

Accessible, meanwhile, is a more modern take on what has made PrimeCredit so successful over nearly half a century serving the people of Hong Kong. Over the past two years the company has built an innovative, interactive mobile platform for the “after 90s”, who often need short-term borrowing to serve their active lifestyles, and in the same spirit last year introduced credit card, WeWa.

The card offered a special lucky draw on every spend of more than HKD400, with prizes ranging from an ice cream experience to a cup of coffee, or even a bill-free evening. To boost the attraction, PrimeCredit also this year introduced its ‘Share a Million’, where its customers can give them and their friends a chance of sharing HKD1 million, and began to offer up to three-month interest free installments without having to go through merchant approval. “We are entering a whole new space – it is very direct, very social, and viral – and we are planning more initiatives for next year. We need to become more social, more digital, our whole ecosystem has to live and breathe the life of these people,” adds Liew.

PrimeCredit believes technology will enable it to provide more personalised sevice customisation for clients. It has proven over the past 40 years its ability to pivot to new developments, and in coming months will introduce an instant payment service and 24-hour, Artificial Intelligence chatbot which will converse with customers after learning from more than 400,000 hours of digital conversations on record.

PrimeCredit intends to use this technology to forge closer links with merchants in Hong Kong, and its own clients, suggests Liew:“Technology will enable us to tie everybody together. We need to keep working on being first choice, so when people think about shopping, they think about WeWa credit card.”

Warning: You have to repay your loans. Don’t pay any intermediaries.
Complaint Hotline: 2111 2999
Money Lender’s Licence Number: 599/2017

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