Russians took out an all-time high of 2.35 million payday loans in March, according to data compiled by consumer credit rating agency Equifax Russia and reported by state media on Friday.
In a sign of Russians’ growing reliance on small loans, Equifax said high-interest microloans have grown 17% since February and 30% since March 2020.
Microfinance companies granted a total of 31 billion rubles ($418.5 million), while the average loan amount stood at 13,100 rubles ($180) for a third consecutive month in March.
“The growth in payday loans is mainly due to the activity of microfinance companies, including in cross-selling,” Oleg Lagutkin, CEO of Equifax Russia, was quoted by state news agency RIA Novosti as saying.
The surge was also accompanied by a record 5.4 million overdue payday loans.
Of a total of 172 billion rubles ($2.2 billion) owed to microfinance organizations, 61 billion in March were held by borrowers who are more than 90 days behind schedule.
Consumer loans also rose 17% to a record total of 340.6 billion rubles ($4.6 billion) in March, Equifax Russia noted last the week.
Average consumer debt per person also set a record high of 308,000 rubles ($4,100), surpassing the 300,000 ruble mark for the first time.
Russia’s Central Bank said average borrower debt had risen due to lower incomes due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Still, the state lender remains optimistic about the country’s banking sector, noting that growth in the personal debt burden has been lower than feared at the start of the pandemic.