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Debt Clinic’s Triumph: A 43% Surge in Borrowers Seeks Financial Respite Amidst Rising NPLs

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In the bustling financial landscape of today, a beacon of hope shines brightly for those ensnared in the clutches of debt – the Debt Clinic, courtesy of the central bank. This groundbreaking initiative has seen an astonishing uptick in traffic, with a 43% surge in the number of retail borrowers eagerly knocking on its doors in the first quarter alone. This remarkable influx is a testament to the growing determination of individuals grappling with the shadows of non-performing loans (NPLs) to reclaim the reins of their financial futures.

Spearheaded by the eminent Sukhumvit Asset Management (SAM), the second-largest asset management behemoth in the country, the Debt Clinic has emerged as a financial sanctuary for many. In this quarter, a staggering 20,267 souls sought solace in the programme’s promise of debt restructuring for unsecured debts – a 43% leap from the previous year’s figures. Out of this hopeful cohort, 14,311 were ushered through the gates, marking a significant 58% year-on-year increase in eligibility success rates. Among the fortunate, 7,145 borrowers embarked on the journey of debt restructuring, their collective debts amounting to a breathtaking 1.62 billion baht.

The realm of debt restructuring under the Debt Clinic’s wing is vast and varied, sheltering 46,720 borrowers from the storms of unsecured loans. Together, they navigate through a sea of 129,959 loan accounts, with outstanding loans ballooning to a staggering 9.46 billion baht. A dive into the demographics reveals an intriguing tapestry – the majority of these debt navigators belong to the vibrant Generation Y, making up 65% of the total, while the steadfast Generation X accounts for the remaining 35%.

The heart and soul behind this revolutionary initiative, Nartnaree Rattapat, the esteemed president of SAM, sheds light on an inspiring trend – a steady uptick in NPL borrowers choosing the path of the Debt Clinic over the treacherous waters of legal action. This shift underscores a critical awakening among borrowers, with the specter of household debt pushing them to seek actionable solutions that can restore peace to their daily lives.

The success of the Debt Clinic is not a solo performance but a symphony of collaborative efforts. The Bank of Thailand, along with 32 financial institutions, has orchestrated a financial alliance that tackles the household debt challenge head-on. This partnership, enriched by the central bank’s strategic easing of Debt Clinic conditions since its inception in June 2017, has paved broader avenues for borrowers tangled in the web of unsecured NPLs to seek redemption.

Reflecting on the seven-year journey of the Debt Clinic, Ms. Nartnaree beams with pride. Approximately 3.35% of all borrowers have triumphantly marched out of the debt restructuring program, liberating themselves from a cumulative debt of 288 million baht. Looking ahead, SAM sets its sights on welcoming around 55,000 unsecured loan accounts, burdened by the shadows of NPLs, into its sanctuary this year.

Delving deeper into the heart of the Debt Clinic’s strategy, the programme extends its helping hand to NPLs birthed from credit cards, cash cards, and personal loans, particularly those languishing beyond the 120-day default mark. It unveils an arsenal of special interest rate adjustments, oscillating between the modest ranges of 3-5% annually, tailored to the borrower’s chosen debt repayment plan. With a maximum repayment horizon stretching to 10 years, and its doors open to retail NPL borrowers up to the age of 70, boasting total debt burdens not surpassing 2 million baht, the Debt Clinic not only offers a financial lifeline but a beacon of hope, guiding borrowers back to the shore of financial stability and peace.

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