736.4 Sowing financial consumers: Retail credit in Chile

Saturday, August 4, 2012: 3:00 PM
Faculty of Economics, TBA
Oral Presentation
Jose OSSANDON , Universidad Diego Portales, Chile
The expansion of consumer credit is one of the most wide-ranging recent transformations in Chile. While not unique, the Chilean case contains an important particularity: it has been driven by retailers such as supermarkets and department stores. In today’s Chile, retail cards are not merely used to purchase goods in the issuers’ institutions, but also in a growing network of associated stores. Retailers have also expanded their range of services to include installment loans, cash advances and insurance. In a country where a large proportion of the population is not considered by banks, stores are becoming the main access to finance, and this novel “model of financialization” is quickly expanding to neighboring countries. Drawing on information collected in 40 in-depth interviews with senior managers, this paper argues that this process arises not only from regulatory arrangements and the elitism of Chilean banks, but from a particular mode of managing consumers (namely “to sow” – or issuing to risky consumers small amounts of credit that is made to grow by carefully following and classifying purchases and debt behavior), whose expansion has been enabled by the development a wide quantitative datascape and the shopping mall as place of encounter.