Non-performing loan (Ofer Abarbanel online library)

A non-performing loan (NPL) is a loan that is in default or close to being in default. Many loans become non-performing after being in default for 90 days, but this can depend on the contract terms.


According to International Monetary Fund, a loan is nonperforming when:

  • Payments of interest and principal are past due by 90 days or more
  • At least 90 days of interest payments have been capitalized, refinanced or delayed by agreement
  • Payments are less than 90 days overdue, but there are other good reasons to doubt that payments will be made in full”.[1]

By bank regulatory definition,[citation needed] non-performing loans consist of:

  • other real estate owned which is taken by foreclosure or a deed in lieu of foreclosure,
  • loans that are 90 days or more past due and still accruing interest, and
  • loans which have been placed on nonaccrual (i.e., loans for which interest is no longer accrued and posted to the income statement).

In India, non-performing loans are common in the agricultural sector where the farmers can’t pay back the loan or the interest amount mainly as a result of losses due to floods or drought.[citation needed] Generally NPL problems are resolved in two ways:

  • Centralization – This happens when all the concerned parties including the banks, regulators and government get together to find solutions. This generally takes the form of a central organization/agency such as an Asset Management Company.
  • Decentralization – This approach involves steps taken by the affected banks. The decentralized approach is common for bad loans arising from bad lending. In this approach, the banks are left alone to manage their own bad loans by giving them incentives, legislative powers, or special accounting or fiscal advantages.

Worldwide, the most common and successful approach towards NPL management is the establishment of Asset Management Companies (AMC). These companies use public or bank funds to remove NPAs from the bank books. For example, the Korea Asset Management Corporation purchased as much as 80% of bad loans at market rate following the Asian crises. Now, there are several proactive measures that are being implemented:

  • Corporate Governance
  • Better credit information to cut down on fresh NPLs
  • Prudential Supervision
  • Efficient, capable management
  • Well developed capital markets that can offer the mechanism and liquidity required to write off bad loans
  • Securitization

Issues faced in NPL management worldwide

These include:

  • Lack of a standard, accepted definition of NPL
  • Lack of any standard valuation methodology whereby financial institutions can set up resources for losses arising from NPL resolution.
  • Pressure on banks and financial institutions to understate their NPLs given the social, economic and political repercussions.
  • Unwillingness of banks to sell NPLs because of the costs associated with such an exercise, which could add to the NPL losses. This in turn could hurt their capital adequacy.
  • Issues of NPL jurisdiction.

Business opportunity

Many companies see a business opportunity in buying NPL’s. Buying NPL’s from financial institutions with a discount, can be a lucrative business.[2] Companies pay from 1% to 80% of the total loan and become the legal owner (creditor). The discount depends on the age of the loan, secured/ unsecured, age debtor, personal/ commercial debt, area of residence, etc.

Non-performing asset

A Non-performing asset (NPA) is defined as a credit facility in respect of which the interest and/or installment of principal has remained ‘past due’ for a specified period of time. In simple terms, an asset is tagged as non performing when it ceases to generate income for the lender.[3]


  1. ^ “Clarification and Elaboration of Issues Raised by the December 2004 Meeting of the Advisory Expert Group of the Intersecretariat Working Group on National Accounts” (PDF). INTERNATIONAL MONETARY FUND. June 2005.
  2. ^ “Cash Loans”.
  3. ^ “Glossary”. Reserve Bank of India. Retrieved 27 April 2015.


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