Despite heavy losses just six months ago, the bank considers launching four more affinity products Wing Lung Bank is embarking on an ambitious plan to expand its credit-card portfolio by 10 per cent this year, just six months after taking heavy losses from enlarging its exposure to the high-risk consumer product. Wing Lung's credit-card centre chief,William Lui Sinn-kiu, said card charge-offs had fallen to about 11 per cent last month, from 14.6 per cent at the end of last year and in line with a general decrease in write-offs across the industry. Mr Lui said yesterday that the mid-tier lender was considering launching another four affinity cards this year, in addition to one unveiled yesterday and co-branded with the Hong Kong Underwater Association, boosting its 150,000 cards now in circulation. 'Our strategy is to issue more affinity [credit] cards,' Mr Lui said. 'In the second half, we will have three or four more affinity card programmes.' The expansion plan comes just months after the bank announced it had lost nearly HK$130 million in credit-card bad debt during the height of the personal bankruptcy crisis last year, as unemployment caused many people to default on their unsecured credit-card loans. The heavy provisions came as Wing Lung's exposure to credit cards grew by 26 per cent last year to about HK$472 million. This was in sharp contrast to Wing Lung's peers, which tightened unsecured lending in the face of rising personal bankruptcies. Mr Lui said the bank would steer clear of a repeat of last year's card losses by sticking with affinity cards, whose members are less likely to incur bad debts. Affinity cards are credit cards promoted by a bank in conjunction with a non-profit organisation. In exchange for making available its membership list, the sponsor receives some compensation from the bank. Unlike generic credit cards, affinity cards are used to purchase specialised discount items rather than for everyday spending, bankers said. Mr Lui said the average charge-off ratio across the bank's 39 affinity card programmes was only about 6 per cent, compared with up to 12 per cent for Wing Lung's generic cards. 'Our statistics show that the bad-debt ratio of our affinity card programme is much better than that of generic cards,' he said. 'We have issued such affinity cards to doctors and accountants and as they are professionals, their spending and repayment patterns are very good.' The bank has issued about 50,000 affinity cards, about a third of its total cards. Mr Lui said the bank was seeking to increase this by half. The bank hopes to attract the entire 8,000 membership of the Hong Kong Underwater Association as new credit-card holders. The diving enthusiasts earn an average of $20,000 a month. Mr Lui said credit-card spending had fallen by 8 per cent during March and April at the height of the Sars outbreak, but this had returned to normal levels. Restructuring of credit-card loans made up about 3 to 4 per cent of all loan restructuring this year, he said. About $8 million worth of credit-card debt had been rescheduled so far this year.