The Russians took out a record 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.
As a sign of the Russians’ growing reliance on small loans, Equifax said high-interest microloans rose 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 cross-selling,” said Oleg Lagutkin, CEO of Equifax Russia, as quoted by state-owned news agency RIA Novosti.
The rise 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 over 90 days overdue on their repayment schedule.
Consumer loans also rose 17%, reaching a record total of 340.6 billion rubles ($ 4.6 billion) in March, Equifax Russia noted latest the week.
Average consumer debt per person also set a record 308,000 rubles ($ 4,100), for the first time surpassing the 300,000 ruble mark.
The Central Bank of Russia has said that average borrower indebtedness has increased due to falling income due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Nonetheless, the public lender remains optimistic about the country’s banking sector, noting that the growth in the personal debt burden has been lower than feared at the start of the pandemic.