Hang Seng Bank has recorded a year-on-year decline of 7 per cent in credit-card transactions for last month on a 17 per cent growth in outstanding account receivables, indicating customers' increasing caution in administering their finances during the economic downturn. The head of Hang Seng's card centre, William Leung Wing-cheung, said the results showed the bank's cardholders had increased use of the overdraft facilities attached to their credit cards to help ease short-term liquidity strains. He said the SAR's credit-card industry had experienced a minor short-lived relief from downward adjustment pressure with Hong Kong-based cardholders taking advantage of the relative strength of the local currency to travel in neighbouring countries and increase their card spending there. But this trend did not find adequate support last month as the local economy continued to show signs of acute deterioration. He emphasised the bank's credit-card receivables portfolio remained of high quality, with only 2 per cent of outstanding balances having repayments overdue for more than 60 days. Mr Leung said the industry's overdue loan ratio could reach 4 to 5 per cent by the end of the year. Hang Seng's numbers contrast with those of Visa International's figures for June, which showed a 17 per cent year-on-year increase in card transactions and a generally more rapid repayment of outstanding card receivables. Mr Leung said Visa's numbers illustrated that over the past few years some banks had been very aggressive in growing their card businesses and encouraging cardholders to use card overdraft facilities. Only 20 per cent of Hang Seng cardholders use overdraft facilities. Visa's Hong Kong and Macau country manager Ivanov Yim Wei-hung said the card organisation - which operates the payment network - saw some of its member banks start to limit their exposure to credit-card business by tightening the credit limits offered to cardholders. In this environment, Visa would focus more on developing with its member banks affinity card programmes, an area which it expected would be one of the substantial growth engines, he said.