London — Britain’s banks are booking future credit card income long before it materialises, prompting concerns about the accounting practice among regulators, investors and analysts. Riskier products such as credit cards have become more popular among banks in search of higher returns in recent years. In the first nine months of 2017, cards brought in £1.5bn in income for Barclays alone. But how banks account for interest earned on zero percent balance cards, which attract consumers with sometimes long initial interest-free periods, is worrying some. Britain’s Prudential Regulation Authority warned that if banks are wrong about how customers will behave it could hit their capital. For as competition has increased, so too has the length of interest-free periods on offer, with the longest available now 38 months, compared with 15 months 10 years ago, data from price comparison website Moneyfacts showed. Banks start booking interest income immediately after issuing the card, even thoug...

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