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Ping An Bank on track to boost credit card business

PING An Bank will accelerate its credit card business while rivals are scaling back on concerns of an economic slowdown, its senior bankers said yesterday.

The banking arm of the Ping An Insurance (Group) Co, the No. 2 insurer in China, targets a new credit card circulation of 2 million this year, up from 1.2 million cards in 2008, Liang Yaolan, deputy general manager of the bank's credit card division, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

"We will open two to three new outlets this year and the geographic expansion will lay a sound base for our credit card business," Liang said.

Ping An Bank, which last week renamed itself from Shenzhen Ping An Bank, has gained special approval as the first and only bank in China to issue credit cards in cities where it has no outlets. Beijing will be the first trial city for the bank. The bank will rely on telephone sales, online banking and direct sales to launch new credit cards and its card holders will be able to make payments at 5,000 convenience stores in the capital.

The bank is a late comer in China's credit card market as it started services only in 2007 and now has 1.5 million users while China Merchants Bank has more than 23 million to rank as the leading issuer of credit cards in China. Richard Jackson, president of the bank, said that the bank is optimistic of China's economic expansion and will grow gradually, although it is not ruling out mergers and acquisitions.

Ping An Bank obtained approval to expand to Hangzhou, Guangzhou, Quanzhou and Xiamen. It now has outlets in Shanghai, Fuzhou and Shenzhen. It made a name with its 10-yuan (US$1.46) movie fee offer last year for new card holders. A movie ticket in Shanghai costs about 60 yuan.


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