The Thai Cabinet has approved, in principle, a Credit Card Business Bill ("Bill") aimed at curbing abuses by credit card business operators and increasing consumer protection.
There are currently different standards of law regulating the operation of credit card businesses, such as those that apply to bank and non-bank operators. Operators and customers suffer losses due to the double-standard and customers, particularly, have been subjected to unfair treatment which in turn affect the country's economic system.
The escalating debt problems and increasing number of consumer complaints over exorbitant interest rates prompted the Ministries of Finance and Justice to develop a law with the intention of standardising the rules governing credit card businesses run by banks and non-bank institutions. Some of the Bill's main provisions are highlighted below.
Essence of the Bill
- Credit card business operators will need to obtain a license from the Ministry of Finance with recommendation from the Bank of Thailand ("BOT")
- The BOT will establish a uniform set of rules governing, inter alia, interest rates, penalty rates and fees
- The rights and duties of operators, card holders and vendors will be clearly defined
- Operators may not collect payment before the due date under the credit card contract
- In case of overpayment, the credit card holder will be entitled to request the operator to return the excess amount
- If a card holder disputes an internet purchase in writing, the operator will be obliged to suspend payment and investigate the matter
- Claims for payment will only be enforceable for two years following termination of the contract
The Bill, to date, is pending scrutiny by the Council of State, the opinion of the Customer Protection Board and Ministry of Commerce and approval by the Parliament before coming into force. Nevertheless, the fact that the relevant ministries have issued the Bill gives credit card users hope for better protection in the future.
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