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Local banks ready to offer 'first-rate services'
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The country's banks are fully prepared to provide first-rate services to overseas and domestic visitors to the Beijing Games, a senior industry official said yesterday.

"After three years' preparation, we are now ready to meet customers' demand for financial services during the Olympics," said Yang Zaiping, executive vice-president of the China Banking Association.

Local banks have improved their service standards, network and hardware over the past years and are now ready to welcome the expected 1 million visitors coming to China for the Olympics next month, Yang said.

In Beijing, there are now 363 currency exchange offices, 82 of which are expected to provide services round the clock.

Similarly, 1,887 of the capital's 3,200 banking branches will be capable of handling foreign currencies, foreign credit cards and traveler's checks, officials have said. English-speaking employees in bank branches will also be able to exchange 16 foreign currencies with Chinese yuan.

Lenders in Beijing have also reportedly set up 201 ATM machines around Games venues, hotels and the airport, which are able to accept credit cards that carry Visa, Master and China Unionpay logos.

To deal with credit card fraud, the Bank of Communications has worked with Visa to carry out anti-fraud training for its employees in Olympic venues including Beijing, Shanghai, Shenyang and Qingdao, officials said.

Improvements have also reportedly been made to local banks' services.

A recent survey showed that 84 percent of bank customers waited more than 15 minutes before being served, compared with 37.5 percent last May, the banking association said.

The association has also opened a 24-hour "12345" Olympic hotline in Beijing, offering its services in eight different languages.

(China Daily July 29, 2008)

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