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Credit card project's milestone
( 2003-11-18 22:37) (China Daily)

Efforts should be further strengthened to beef up the development of the nation's "Golden Card'' project, according to Zhang Qi, director of the State Golden Card Project's Conciliatory and Guidance Office.

Advocated by former President Jiang Zemin, the project, which was officially launched in 1993, aims to accelerate the construction and reform of China's finance and trade by encouraging more people to use credit cards.

"We have accomplished great achievements in the past decade,'' Zhang said yesterday, which was the 10th anniversary of the golden card project.

In the banking sector, for instance, the People's Bank of China (PBOC) said 91 financial institutions in China -- four State-owned commercial banks, 10 shareholding commercial banks, one post office, 56 city commercial banks and 20 rural credit unions -- had issued 569 million bank cards by the end of June.

According to Chen Jing, director-general of the PBOC's Science and Technology Department, the value of transactions via bank cards reached 11.6 trillion yuan (US$1.39 trillion) last year, up 38 per cent over the previous 12 months.

On the other hand, the development of integrated cards (ICs) also contributed to the progression of the gold card project, said Zhang, who is also director-general of the Department of the Electronics and Information Product Administration under the Ministry of Information Industry (MII).

Due to their large storage and high security, ICs have been applied to many sectors, such as finance, trade, transportation, construction, telecommunication, social security, tax and customs.

Figures from the MII show about 1.3 billion IC cards had been issued up until the middle of this year.

"Nevertheless, there are still some problems existing that have hampered the development of the project,'' Zhang said yesterday while delivering a speech.

For example, domestic financial institutions will have to speed up the inter-linking of different bank cards to improve their services.

Currently, most card holders are only allowed to use automatic teller machines or point of sale machines provided by a specified bank.

According to Zhang, factors slowing the development of the project mainly include local government's insignificant emphasis on the project, low penetration of banking cards in some areas and non-standardization within the credit market.

"We are going to work out a second 10-year plan for the project,'' Zhang said.

"Meanwhile, we will further encourage the wide use of banking cards and encourage the banking sector to adopt ICs instead of regular magnetic credit cards so information can be shared by other sectors.''

In another development, the launch of a new identification card system next year will offer a golden opportunity for ICs, Zhang said.

From 2004, China will replace the plastic identification cards presently carried by its citizens aged over 16 with ICs.

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