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Central bank to blacklist foreign bankcards involved in fraud
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The People's Bank of China, or the central bank, will blacklist foreign bankcards found involved in fraud cases, as one of the country's efforts to curb bankcard crimes and create an Olympics-friendly payment environment.

The list would help the card issuer banks, merchants and other agencies to stop service for suspects, Ouyang Weimin, director general of the Payment and Settlement Department of the People's Bank of China, told a press conference on Wednesday.

But he did not say whether any cards have been listed so far.

"According to the experience of previous Olympic hosts, there were high incidence of bankcard-related crimes during the Games," he said. "China has adopted several measures to curb them."

A joint action between the central bank and police started in April. The authorities have registered 1,600 cases and arrested 342 suspects, implicating more than 40 million yuan.

Contingency plans were made to cope with possible hacker attacks on banking system.

"We also adopted precautious policies. For instance, foreign cardholders are asked to show their IDs if spending more than 10,000 yuan (1,449 dollars) once in China," Ouyang said.

Non-cash payment has been popular across China in the past seven years as the nation worked hard to provide quality financial service for the Games.

China has shifted to a "non-cash payment nation", despite a stereotype that Chinese prefer using cash, Ouyang said.

About 240 trillion yuan (34.78 trillion U.S. dollars) were transferred through banknotes last year, compared with 18 trillion in 2001, and 116 trillion through bankcards, over 8 trillion seven years ago, he said.

In addition, 800 trillion yuan were transferred between bank accounts.

The country has issued 1.6 billion bankcards, each Chinese having one on average. The figure was 380 million in 2001.

China has established an "express network" of payment systems, which is able to handle 3 trillion yuan worth of payment daily, he said."That is, it will take seven days to handle the payment equal to China's gross domestic product (GDP)."

This has greatly improved the financial service to the Olympics.According to him, 95 percent of merchants in Beijing's Olympics-related areas accept domestic bankcards and 90 percent of them take foreign cards.

In the other five co-host cities, more than 90 percent of merchants accept domestic cards. The ratio varied for foreign cards, 90 percent in Shanghai, 80 percent in Qingdao, 55 percent in Tianjin, 50 percent in Shenyang, and 46 percent in Qinhuangdao.

(Xinhua News Agency August 13, 2008)

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