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Standard Chartered launches yuan-backed debit card
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Standard Chartered Bank today launched its yuan-backed debit card, becoming the second overseas bank to offer the service on China's mainland.

The bank expects to launch yuan-backed credit cards as soon as possible, said Katherine Tsang, chief executive officer of Standard Chartered China today.

"This new debit card is a key component of our consumer banking business' integrated yuan product capability, and is available to both new and existing customers," said Tsang.

The bank yesterday signed a strategic partnership agreement with China UnionPay. The bank's cards can be used at UnionPay's 140,000 automatic teller machines in China and 520,000 ATMs worldwide.

The bank waived the 20 yuan (US$2.93) annual service charge and 10 yuan card production fee to woo more clients.

Hang Seng Bank plans to issue yuan-backed debit cards after the Beijing Olympic Games, the bank told Shanghai Daily.

Hong Kong-based Hang Seng is preparing its yuan-backed debit cards database in southern China, in accordance with authorities' requirement to set up a bank card database onshore.

Hang Seng opted to build its own database rather than outsource the services to a third party, the bank said.

Standard Chartered launched the card following Bank of East Asia, which was the first overseas bank to offer yuan-backed debit cards on the mainland in May.

Standard Chartered submitted the application for debit card business to the China Banking Regulatory Committee in July 2007. HSBC and Citibank sent similar applications last year and are now preparing for the business. HSBC plans to launch its card before the end of this year.

Bank cards, including debit and credit cards, were used to make 1.58 billion purchases by March 31, up 29.1 percent on year, the central bank said.

Debit cards still dominate the mainland's bank card market at 93.4 percent. Bank card-based transactions accounted for 25.6 percent of the country's total retail sales, up from last year's 21.9 percent.

(Shanghai Daily July 24, 2008)

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