BEIJING, Feb. 20 (Xinhua) -- China's micro-credit sector witnessed explosive growth last year as the government encouraged lenders to provide more loans to small and micro-sized enterprises.
The number of micro-credit companies rose 63.81 percent year-on-year to reach 4,282 by the end of December, the People's Bank of China, or the central bank, said in a statement on its website.
The companies extended 193.5 billion yuan (30.71 billion U.S. dollars) of new loans last year, up from 120.2 billion yuan one year earlier.
Outstanding loans of China's micro-lenders stood at 391.5 billion yuan by the end of 2011, up from 197.5 billion yuan by the end of 2010, according to the statement.
In December, the central bank pledged to further optimize credit structure and better serve the development of the real economy, with more emphasis on small and micro-enterprises.
China's new yuan-denominated lending reached 738.1 billion yuan in January, down 288.2 billion yuan year-on-year, according to data from the central bank.