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Non-Performing Asset (NPA)


A Non-Performing Asset (NPA) is a loan or advance for which the principal or interest payment remains unpaid for a specific period of time, typically 90 days. It indicates that the borrower has stopped making scheduled payments. NPA is used in the banking industry to signify loans or advances that are in jeopardy of default.


Non-Performing Asset (NPA) is pronounced as ‘nɒn pəː’fɔːmɪŋ ‘æsɪt (NPA).

Key Takeaways

  1. Definition: A Non-Performing Asset (NPA) is a loan or advance where the principal or interest is in default or arrears. Simply put, NPAs are loans that have ceased generating income for the lender. An asset typically gets classified as non-performing when it has not been producing the agreed-upon income for 90 days or more.
  2. Categories of NPA: Non-performing assets are categorized into three types: Sub-Standard Assets, Doubtful Assets, and Loss Assets. Sub-Standard assets are those which have remained NPA for less than or equal to 12 months. Doubtful assets are those which have remained in the sub-standard category for more than 12 months. Loss assets are those where the loss has been identified by the bank or internal or external auditors or the RBI inspection, but the amount has not been written off wholly.
  3. Impact of NPA: High levels of NPAs indicate that the bank is suffering from poor credit underwriting standards, which can affect the profitability and liquidity of the bank, and ultimately, the banking industry and the economy. Moreover, it creates a burden on the bank’s balance sheet as it has to make more provisions to account for potential losses.


The business/finance term “Non-Performing Asset (NPA)” is important as it basically refers to a loan or an advance that is in jeopardy of default. When the principal or interest amount is not repaid by the borrower for a long period like 90 days, the asset is classified as NPA. Monitoring these allows banks and financial institutions to identify problems in their portfolio in advance, thereby enabling them to mitigate risks and contain potential losses. Too many NPAs on a lender’s books indicate poor credit risk management and lead to a decline in profitability. Therefore, NPA is a critical measure of a bank’s asset quality and financial health.


Non-Performing Assets (NPA) serve as an indicator of the credit risk within a financial institution, such as a bank or credit union. Its main purpose is to measure the assets that are not producing income for these institutions, as it signifies loans or advances where the borrower has stopped making interest or principal repayments. Evaluating NPAs provides critical insights into the financial health of a lending institution, giving both the institutions themselves and potential investors a better understanding of the risk associated with their investments or operations.Moreover, the levels of NPAs can also direct the operational, financial, and strategic decision-making within the institution. Financial institutions can use their NPA levels to assess and revise their credit assessment processes, loan loss provisioning, and overall risk management practices. Higher NPA levels could be a call-to-action for the institution to tighten their credit policies or to enforce stricter collection efforts. For potential investors, a high level of NPAs could be a deterrent as it signals a higher likelihood of defaults, and thus, lower profitability and return on investment. Therefore, NPAs play a vital role in maintaining stability and integrity in the financial sector.


1. Subprime Mortgage Crisis: Perhaps one of the most significant examples of Non-Performing Assets (NPA) is the subprime mortgage crisis in the United States, which played a crucial role in the 2008 global financial crisis. During this period, many banks had granted housing loans to borrowers who lacked the creditworthiness to repay them. As these subprime borrowers began to default on their loan repayments, these assets became non-performing for the banks.2. Indian Public Sector Banks: In India, public sector banks have experienced a substantial increase in NPAs in recent years. A good portion of these bad loans came from sectors like infrastructure, power, steel, and textiles. The key reasons behind this were poor financial health of these companies, sluggish growth, and a decrease in their profits.3. The Bad Loan crisis in Italy: Around 2015-2016, Italy faced one of the worst non-performing assets crises in Europe. The banks had an estimated €360 billion in bad loans, which was reportedly an outcome of years of economic downturn. Many small and medium-sized businesses failed during this period, resulting in them being unable to pay back their loans, thus turning these loans into Non-Performing Assets.

Frequently Asked Questions(FAQ)

What is a Non-Performing Asset (NPA)?

A Non-Performing Asset (NPA) is a loan or an advance where the principal or the interest payment remains overdue for a specific period of time. It is essentially a loan that is not producing income.

What types of NPAs exist in the finance industry?

There are typically three types of NPAs: Substandard Assets, Doubtful Assets, and Loss Assets. Each is categorized based on how long the asset has been non-performing.

How are NPAs classified?

NPAs are generally classified in terms of duration. An asset becomes NPA if the installment or interest payments are overdue for more than 90 days (or a different period of time depending upon the jurisdiction and the individual terms of the loan).

What is the impact of NPAs on banking institutions?

High levels of NPAs can impact banking institutions negatively as they represent loans where banks are not receiving any income. This reduces the profitability and liquidity of banks and hampers their lending abilities.

How can banks manage and reduce NPAs?

Banks can manage and reduce NPAs through credit risk management techniques such as credit appraisal, post credit monitoring, and by following up for repayments promptly. They can also employ recovery strategies such as restructuring and rescheduling of loans.

Why are NPAs important in finance and business?

NPAs are a key indicator of the financial health of banking institutions. High levels of NPAs suggest that a significant number of loans in the bank’s portfolio are in danger of default, which presents risks to both the bank and its stakeholders.

How does an NPA affect the borrower?

When a borrower’s loan becomes an NPA, it affects their creditworthiness, making it more difficult for them to obtain loans in the future. It could also lead to legal implications if they are unable to pay off their debts.

How can a borrower avoid turning their loan into an NPA?

Borrowers can avoid turning their loans into NPAs by ensuring timely repayment of their principal and interest amounts. Maintaining a good credit score, proper financial management and planning can also help in keeping loans from becoming NPAs.

Related Finance Terms

  • Default: This is a situation when a debtor is unable to fulfill their loan obligations or make payment on a scheduled date.
  • Restructured Loan: A loan that has been reorganized, typically with a reduction in interest or an extension on the time of repayment. This is often a step taken to avoid the loan becoming a non-performing asset.
  • Provisioning: The process of setting aside capital to absorb likely future loan losses. When a borrower defaults and the loan turns into a non-performing asset, provisions help cover the losses.
  • Asset Quality: A measure that reflects the likelihood that loans and other assets could cause loss, resulting in lower earnings. If there’s a high proportion of NPAs, the quality of the assets is considered poor.
  • Write Off: This is the process of removing a loan from the balance sheet of a financial institution after it has been deemed uncollectible. This usually happens when the loan becomes a non-performing asset.

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