Johannesburg- WesBank, the vehicle finance division of FirstRand [JSE:FSR]
, said on Tuesday it has recorded a significant reduction in the number of vehicle and asset finance customers going under debt review in terms of Section 86 of the National Credit Act.
The number of monthly applications for debt review fell by 71% during the past year to the end of July, indicating that the debt review process was now working much better than before, the vehicle financier said.
Chris de Kock, WesBank executive head, sales and marketing, said the reduction was due to a number of reasons. These include a stronger economy, legal clarification on the rights of credit providers and consumers around the debt review process, as well as improved consumer education.
"A lower interest rate environment and a stronger economy have certainly helped consumer's ability to repay debt, and we are seeing the benefits of this coming through improved customer account conduct profiles."
He cautioned though that while the number of people going under debt review had remained stable over the last few months, any major change in economic conditions would have a negative affect.
De Kock said the Supreme Court of Appeal's judgment this year confirming the credit providers' termination rights when consumers were in default also contributed to the falling number of people going under debt review.
"The ruling has helped clarify understanding of the rights of credit providers and has somewhat discouraged the abuse of the protection previously provided by Section 86 of the National Credit Act," De Kock said.
He added improved consumer education and awareness had also helped to convince people who were unable to meet their commitments of the importance of dealing with the problem sooner rather than later.