Sun, May 19, 2013 - Page 14 News List

Pawnshops thrive as Singaporeans face rising cost of living

By Bhavan Jaipragas  /  AFP, SINGAPORE

Younger and more affluent customers, unperturbed by the stigma once associated with pawnshops, have also become an important clientele for an industry that has softened its image with endorsements from local celebrities. Apart from gold, they also pawn diamonds, rare gems and antique watches.

Singapore’s usually business-friendly authorities say they are closely watching the rapidly expanding industry, with some concerns that such accessible loans might help fuel gambling in the world’s third-largest gaming market behind Macau and Las Vegas.

In April, the law ministry called for public feedback on a proposed amendment to laws governing pawnshops to strengthen governance of the industry.

Da Cunha does not believe the government will impose any drastic measures.

“Pawnshops are already embedded in Singapore society. It is far better than the next alternative, which is for Singaporeans to seek loans from loansharks,” he said.

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