Industrial & Commercial Bank of China plans to increase the number of credit cards it issues by up to 30 percent this year.
The bank has more than 23 million credit cards in circulation so far, and the figure is expected to top 30 million by the end of this year, Hong Xiaolan, general manager of bank cards at ICBC's Shanghai branch, said yesterday.
Credit cards are forecast to be the most important consumer credit product after mortgages, with profit expected to reach US$1.6 billion by 2013, accounting for 22 percent of total consumer credit profits, according to New York-based McKinsey & Co.
China issued 70 million credit cards last year, up 140 percent over the previous year, according to figures released by the People's Bank of China yesterday.
Bankers are fighting for a bigger slice of the market by offering to waive annual fees and giving free gifts to new card holders.
Beijing-based ICBC yesterday issued credit cards containing integrated circuits, targeting drivers in Shanghai, the first lender in the city to offer the IC credit card.
The industry sees IC credit cards as a strong trend, as they have higher security than the magnetic cards offered now. However, they cost more to issue.
ICBC will target selected groups in the retail industry such as stores and restaurants to issue co-branded IC cards in future, said Hong.
Shares in the bank decreased 6.23 percent to 6.62 yuan (92 US cents) in Shanghai yesterday.
(Shanghai Daily January 29, 2008)