Local Bank Offers World Acceptable Credit Card

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the country’s largest commercial bank, launched the country’s first internationally acceptable credit card, which can rival foreign cards in terms of service, bank officials said.

The card is now for just sports reporters covering the Olympics. It is called the “Peony China Sports Journalists Internationally Acceptable Card." The reporters can use the card in 15 million VISA card-approved shops in 250 countries and regions. The bank will ultimately offer these cards to the public.

The new cards also offer car rentals and hotel bookings, services seldom allowed by Chinese bank cards, said ICBC officials.

Interest on purchases would be due in 25 to 60 days, an ICBC official said at the launching ceremony over the weekend in Beijing.

The new ICBC cards can handle renminbi and foreign currency, which enables users to spend renminbi at home and save their foreign currency.

“On the whole, the new card is quite advanced among domestic cards in function and service," said Zhou Yuedong, director of the ICBC Credit Card Department’s marketing division.

Most foreign currency cards in China require holders to deposit collateral, which is not the international practice. ICBC's card does not require collateral.

As competition among banks becomes fiercer, commercial banks are realizing the high profitability of credit card business and focusing on this kind of venture.

ICBC President Jiang Jianqing said at the beginning of this year that the bank must step up the issue of foreign currency cards and try to increase dramatically the number of users this year.

The bank has issued more than 66 million cards with a transaction volume commanding at least 40 percent of the market, said Zhou.


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