Panamanians Owe $1.781 Billion in Credit Cards

Note: this is just a translation of a news article appearing in La Estrella de Panama newspaper in Panama on 3 July 2016. The article is authored by Mirta Rodriguez P. and is the property of La Estrella de Panama. The British Chamber of Commerce in Panama does not claim ownership of the contents of the article, just the translation presented below.


The total credit card debt in the National Banking System rose to $1.781 billion in April 2016, as indicated in a report by the Superintendency of Banks of Panama.

The figure reflects an increase in credit card debt of $88 million or 5.2% in the first four months of the year. In this financial sub-sector BAC International, Banco General, Scotiabank, Banesco, Banistmo and St. George’s Bank strongly compete with each other.

According to figures of the Superintendency of Banks of Panama BAC International leads the market of credit card financing with 22% of the market, followed by Banco General (16.3%), Scotiabank (15.5%), Banesco (12.3%), Banistmo (11%), and St. George’s Bank (7.7%). Other financial institutions with important potential in this financial sub-sector are Global Bank, Credicorp Bank, Banco Ficohsa and Multibank.

Growth Trends

The total figure of credit cards in the first four months of 2016 ($1.781 billion) shows a growth trend compared to the same period of the previous year (2015), when the debt totalled $1.458 billion.

This means that the total credit card debt increased by $324 million during the same time frame analysed, according to the data from the Superintendency of Banks of Panama.

The same growth rate was recorded in April 2014, when total credit card debt reached $1.261 billion.


Banking is one of the strengths of the country. It has developed along with the Republic. In 1904, two important banks were established.

The first, the International Bank Corporation, changed its name to First National City Bank of New York, today Citibank, which is part of Citigroup, the largest financial conglomerate in the world.

The second was the National Bank of Panama.

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