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Standard Chartered banks on debit cards
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Standard Chartered Bank expects to issue a yuan-backed debit card ''very very soon'' as it taps the rising individual banking market on the Chinese mainland.

The debit card will be launched "very very soon," said Christine Ip, head of consumer banking at Standard Chartered Bank (China) Co Ltd, in Shanghai yesterday, adding that it is likely to be launched before the Beijing Olympic Games which open on August 8. She added that more details will be available on the debit cards later.

The bank's debit card database in Shanghai has passed an examination by the People's Bank of China, the central bank. The bank is the second overseas lender to eye the debit card business after Hong Kong's Bank of East Asia, whose debit cards debuted in late May.

Last year HSBC and Citibank applied to launch debit cards and HSBC plans to launch them before the end of this year.

The total number of cards, including debit and credit cards, on the mainland topped 1.58 billion by March 31, a jump of 29.1 percent from a year ago, the central bank said. Debit cards still dominate the mainland's bank card market, accounting for 93.4 percent of the market.

Bank card-based dealings took up 25.6 percent of the country's total retail sales, up from last year's 21.9 percent.

By the end of March, 203 institutions, including 168 domestic banks, had joined UnionPay, the country's sole trans-bank transfer system.

(Shanghai Daily July 10, 2008)

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