【英语财经】中国影子银行的灰色领域:信用卡套现 A Dark Corner in Chinese Shadow Banking: Cash via Credit Cards

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2014-5-9 08:36

小艾摘要: Need cash in a hurry in China? You can use your credit card for that -- just don't tell the central bank. With the Chinese economy slowing, businesses of all stripes are finding themselves short of ca ...
A Dark Corner in Chinese Shadow Banking: Cash via Credit Cards
Need cash in a hurry in China? You can use your credit card for that -- just don't tell the central bank.

With the Chinese economy slowing, businesses of all stripes are finding themselves short of cash. The banks are proving more reluctant to lend to small and private firms, companies are delaying payment of goods they bought on credit, and the slowing economy means that sales just aren't as good as they used to be.

So companies are turning to their credit cards. Some people with point-of-sales -- or POS -- machines will offer to swipe your card, racking up a sale, but instead of handing over the goods they give you cash. They take a small fee, and you get -- for all intents and purposes -- a bank loan.

This is not exactly new. The People's Bank of China warned about it late last year. But anecdotally, it's becoming more visible in Beijing. One China Real Time reporter started receiving the occasional advertisement in his bicycle basket from outfits offering such services earlier in the year. But yesterday, a bicycle parking lot where he occasionally leaves his bike got spammed with advertising from three different service providers. Given the practice is illegal, that's kind of a lot.

So, how does it work?

Think of it as an interest-free loan -- well, almost. After you swipe your card and receive your cash, you have about 50 to 60 days before the banks starts calculating interest on the amount you've charged. But if you've got multiple credit cards, you can rollover that amount indefinitely. When the bill on the first card comes due, you just go back to your friendly credit-card-fraud enabler who will swipe your next card and give you the cash needed to pay off the first bill.

But if you only have one card, or you've already maxed out your others, the person with the POS machine can provide a ultra-short term loan, giving you enough cash to pay off the credit card bill, allowing you to borrow interest free again right away. The expectation is that once your credit card debt is set to zero, you'll immediately repay your agent by swiping your card again on his POS machine.

A couple of people who provide the cash-out service told China Real Time that they charge a 1% fee for transactions of more than 10,000 yuan, and flat fee of 50 yuan for anything less than that. One person charged a fee of 0.1% to pay off credit card debt, and the other 1.2% -- not a bad return given the loan is only for a few days. If you rollover the debt for an entire year, that means you're probably paying between 6% and 8% on what you borrow. That's still lower than what the bank would offer, if it's even willing to offer a loan.

It's impossible to say how widespread the practice is, but it's common enough to have attracted the regulator's attention. In November, the Nanchang branch of the People's Bank of China issued a notice warning that using credit cards to draw cash from fake transactions is illegal and that it 'contaminates society's morals' by undermining the good faith on which market transactions are based.

Money raised this way 'flows into the stock market, gambling, speculation and into companies' working capital,' the statement said, adding that loans to companies should be backed by collateral and guarantees.

The central bank expressed similar concerns earlier this week that funds extended by banks as personal loans were ending up in speculative activities

With cash hard to come by, society could find its morals being contaminated by similar practices for some time to come.

Josh Chin/The Wall Street Journal
在中国急需现金吗?你可以用信用卡来解燃眉之急,只是不要让央行知道。

在中国经济增长放缓之际,各种类型的企业都发现自己手头现金短缺。事实证明银行更不愿意借钱给小企业和私营公司。针对那些基于信用购买的商品,各公司都在推迟付款,而经济放缓意味着,销售情况不如以前那样好。

因此,一些公司开始利用信用卡。一些有销售终端(POS)的人愿意为你刷卡,增加一笔销售,但他们并不给你商品,而是给你现金。他们会为此收取一些费用,而你则获得了一笔银行贷款,可以用于任何目的。

这么做并不新鲜。中国央行去年末已经对此提出警告。但从一些现象看,这样的做法在北京变得更加常见。“中国实时报”栏目的一位记者今年早些时候开始发现,自己自行车车篮里会偶尔收到提供这样服务的广告。但在昨天,记者偶尔停放自行车的地方出现了来自三家不同服务提供商的广告。鉴于这种做法是非法的,这些广告的数量确实不少。

那么具体怎么操作呢?

把它视为免息贷款(差不多是免息)。在你刷卡并拿到现金后,有50到60天的时间银行是不会向这些钱收取利息的。但如果你有很多张信用卡,你就可以无限期地循环。第一张卡的账单到期时,你只要回到那个愿意为你信用卡套现的人那里,刷你另一张卡,然后把给你的现金用于偿还第一张卡的账单

然而如果你只有一张信用卡,或者其他卡已经刷爆,有POS机的人可以提供一笔超短期贷款,让你有足够现金支付信用卡账单,这样一来你就可以立刻再次无息借款。需要做的是,一旦信用卡欠款归零,你通过再次在POS机上刷卡的方式立刻把钱还给这个人。

几位提供这种套现服务的人向《中国实时报》透露,高于人民币10,000元的交易收取1%的手续费,低于这一金额的交易收取人民币50元的固定费用。其中一人对支付信用卡账单收取0.1%的手续费,另外一人收取的费率为1.2%,考虑到贷款的期限仅为几天,这样的收益率还不错。如果将贷款展期一整年,就意味着可能要支付6%至8%的利息。就算银行愿意提供贷款,利率也会比这样的水平高。

很难说现在多少人这样套现,但已经足以引起监管机构的注意。中国央行南昌中心支行去年11月份下发通知警告称,使用信用卡进行虚假交易套现是违法行为,这种做法破坏了作为市场交易基础的信誉,败坏了社会道德。

公告称,通过这种方式获得的资金流入股市、博彩业、参与投机行为、成为企业的营运资本,而企业贷款应当由抵押品和担保来支持。

央行本周早些时候表达了类似担忧,称银行提供的个人贷款最后都被用于投机活动。

考虑到获得资金的难度很大,未来一段时间类似做法可能将继续存在。

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