Pawnshops hit paydirt as South-east Asians sweat before pay day
SINGAPORE/BANGKOK (Reuters) - Faced with rising living costs and unable to wait until pay day, growing numbers of South-east Asians are putting their gold jewellery and designer watches in hock, creating a boom in pawnshops across Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Vietnam.
In a sign of the times, the cast of United States reality TV show Pawn Stars paid a visit last month, promoting their show in a region where the industry is on the ascent.
Pawnshop businesses are also in flavour with investors. The share price for Singapore's MoneyMax Financial Services Ltd stands around 30 per cent higher than its initial public offering last month.
These companies are trying to shake off their image as lenders of last resort to the desperate. But their newfound success may signal trouble for South-east Asian economies, as pawnshops and other similar businesses typically outperform when household budgets are strained.