A brief history of consumer credit 3/3 : the organisation of responsible credit


Cetelem Stand at Furniture Fair, 1995 - BNP Paribas Historical Archives

The use of credit in France has gradually grown since the 1920s and is now widely accepted. Consumer credit was introduced in the 1950s and marked a genuine turning point for French society. BNP Paribas’ subsidiary Cetelem is a long-standing player in this development.

Towards responsible credit

Consumer credit was now accepted in France and continued to grow in the 1970s. Cetelem chose to innovate by making the best possible use of new methods of communication to promote its loans, turning to Minitel when it was launched in 1982. Within two years, 3,000 retailers were connected to Cetelem by Minitel: it was now possible to make a direct in-store request for credit!


Appliance store in Algiers, where it is possible to identify Cetelem posters, 1954 – BNP Paribas Historical Archives


The astonishing development of consumer credit also created the need for a regulatory framework to avoid excessive debt. This phenomenon made its appearance at the end of the 1970s in particular, with the rise in unemployment. The government legislated, and in 1989 the Neiertz law established a commission on overindebtedness in each French département.

These provisions were expanded and clarified by the Lagarde laws in 2010 and the Hamon laws in 2015, with the aim of strengthening protection of consumers and alerting them to the dangers of uncontrolled borrowing. Cetelem created “responsible credit”, which provided more accurate information and greater support for consumers. This new legal framework, together with the digitalisation of offers and application processing, introduced a new era of consumer credit.

Stand e-commerce de Cetelem, 2015

Cetelem E-commerce stand, 2015 – BNP Paribas Historical Archives


To know more about consumer credit, do not miss our articles on the origins and the organisation of consumer credit.


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