Chinese bank card holders may be pleased to hear that they will be able to withdraw cash from any automatic teller machine (ATM) belonging to any bank in five major cities, by the end of the year.
Chen Jing, a senior official with the People's Bank of China (PBOC), said the new type of banking card called "Yinlian" will be put into use in Beijing, Shanghai, Hangzhou, Guangzhou and Shenzhen in coming months.
"This is an important step towards creating a national payment network system, which is expected to further boost the country's individual banking business," Chen said.
Launched in 1993, the national payment system currently covers banking networks in 18 major cities, where bank cards (from certain banks) can be used to withdraw cash and to make deposits at any of the payment terminals, such as the ATMs of commercial banks.
Statistics from PBOC indicate that 55 financial institutions in China had issued 330 million bank cards of various kinds by June this year, an increase of 18.4 per cent from the end of June last year.
Financial institutions that have opened bank card businesses include four State-owned commercial banks, 10 share holding commercial banks, one post office, 29 city commercial banks as well as 11 rural credit unions.
The outstanding amount of bank card deposits hit 374.2 billion yuan (US$45.1 billion) by the end of June, an increase of 28.6 per cent from the end of last year.
Trade volume of bank cards totalled 4.85 trillion yuan (US$577.3 billion) or an increase of 224 per cent from a year ago.
Currently, China has 129,000 banking outlets handling bank card business, and there are 49,000 ATMs across the country.
Wu Xiaoling, deputy governor of PBOC, said China's bank card sector is faced with both opportunities and challenges with the country's impending entry into the World Trade Organization.
The central bank and all commercial banks will implement a series of measures to promote the inter-linking of different bank cards.
These measures include upgrading the standardization of bank's business processing systems and ATM systems, improving the legal framework of the bank card business, deepening management reforms and enhancing the supervision of the risk-control methods.
(China Daily 09/21/2001)