The establishment of a mature payment system will give strength to China's West development programme, said Willie Fung, senior vice-president of MasterCard International.
A complete and mature payment system and network, including remittance, debt and credit cards, personal credit system, automatic teller machine (ATM) and point of sales (POS), will benefit consumers, banks and the region as a whole, he said.
For consumers, the system will allow them to have a wider range of choices, both where and when, to perform transactions.
People can use their cards to obtain financial services, such as saving and drawing money on ATMs and other facilities, even in places where no branch banks exist.
This will result in a rise in the amount of consumption, and therefore boosting the commercial section of economy, said Fung, responsible for the business development of MasterCard on the Chinese mainland, Taiwan and Hong Kong.
For banks, they can significantly expand business opportunities with the system, and better serve the customers' needs at any time and place.
Fung said a payment network should cover populous districts and cities, and be connected to the banking system.
Therefore, with the linked-up networks of ATM, POS and Switch, merchants will be connected together and cards issued by different banks can be used together.
At present, western China is still less developed. However, the area will be favourable for developing an advanced payment network.
Take for example the construction of the mobile communications network in China: It has grown from fruition to today's prosperity at a much faster speed than in most advanced countries. Similarly, the development of a payment network in western China will also be rapid.
Fung said, at present, most domestic banks have not interconnected their networks in western regions. This results in a giant opportunity for payment companies.
MasterCard does not view this merely as a chance to make money, Fung said, as "our mission is to help formulate a favourable environment for the payment industry in western China under the guidance of governmental policies."
After establishment, the mature payment system will be owned and operated by local companies and institutions with the help of MasterCard, he said.
Moreover, MasterCard will actively provide education for consumers on modern payment methods and offer training to local merchants to attract them into the network.
Fung said MasterCard will study local cultural and psychological features to provide tailor-made services to local clients and customers.
As to help with setting up the network, foreign enterprises want to know whether the government will provide preferential conditions for them within the scope of the overall policy.
Such conditions will help foreign enterprises take on adaptive measures in co-operating with local governments, institutions and companies, so as to achieve the best results.
Foreign enterprises' leading roles in the development of western China will be investment of capital and the introduction of advanced technologies.
(China Daily 08/08/2001)