“Too much consumer loan debt can become a problem,” warned Finance Minister Siv Jensen after calling in lenders offering unsecured loans at high interest rates. Jensen told them that if they don’t restrict activity themselves, new regulations will.
Jensen was joined by Justice Minister Tor Mikkel Wara and the minister in charge of consumer issues, Linda Hofstad Helleland. Financial regulators and other players in the finance industry were also summoned after statistics show Norwegians’ consumer debt had already reached more than NOK 100 billion last year. It’s likely higher this year.
One problem is that no one knows for sure, since there’s no central register. Lenders can’t be sure how much debt a loan applicant may already has, but Helleland hopes a register will be established by summer.
Bank Norwegian, Santander Consumer Bank, Monobank and DNB were among those at the meeting. “They were clearly told by me that if they don’t tighten up lending, we’ll come with measures that will force them to,” Jensen told reporters after the meeting. She’s most concerned about a lack of protection against “the fine print” in lending agreements that shows how loan payments can soar, and compound borrowers’ financial problems.