More specifically, unsecured credit went up from R8.37 billion in the third quarter to R10.54 billion in the fourth quarter, an increase of 25.83%
The astounding increase in unsecured credit comes as no surprise to Justmoney.co.za's general manager Andy Gilder, whose website deals in sourcing personal finance products for South Africans.
"If one looks at the local Google search data for terms like "personal loan", the last quarter of 2009 will show you a significant increase in volume.
"Searches for terms like "loans" have always been high volume in personal finance, with usually over 250 000 local searches a month, but over the last quarter of last year we saw a significant rise - I can recall struggling to match the increase in demand. Whether this is because of an increase in people on the web or an increase in the demand for credit we can't know for sure, but they are clearly more people looking for loans online than ever before."
More worrying than the credit figures are the debt figures. Of the 18.07 million credit-active South Africans, 10.75 million are in arrears with their debt obligations. Yet again, Gilder is less than surprised.
"There are well over 300 000 local searches a month for debt related terms and this number gets bigger every time we check. We field dozens of questions a day about any manner of debt problems and we've had to team up with local debt expert Debtbusters just to help us field the daily queries."
Gilder notes that the Internet is fast becoming the first port of call for South Africans looking for personal finance products and that the industry is fast becoming highly competitive. Websites like his can expect to cater to more than 40, 000 visitors a month looking for a products ranging from to Investments and medical aid to credit cards.