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AIG eyes credit card market in China
( 2004-01-08 14:01) (chinadaily.com.cn)

The world's No.1 insurer American International Group is waiting for approval from Chinese finacial regulator to start credit card business in Chinese mainland, the Financial Times reported today.

"As soon as China opens up, we want to go into China," Edmund Tse, AIG's senior vice-chairman was quoted in an interview with the Financial Times. "All the banks are pushing China to open up the credit card market."

Earlier this month, U.S.-based Citigroup and local partner Pudong Development Bank received approval to issue a co-branded RMB credit card, the first for a foreign group. The Bank of Shanghai, in which HSBC owns an 8 per cent stake, also won permission to issue RMB credit cards this month.

The FT story also said that several other banks, including Standard Chartered, are waiting for the China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC), the regulator, to publish new rules that will allow them to apply for foreign currency credit cards.

China is attractive for consumer finance groups due to its fast economic growth and the low number of cards already in issue - 25 million, compared with a population of 1.3 billion.

AIG declined to reveal whether it wanted to launch a RMB card, which would require it to enter a joint venture with a local partner, or a foreign currency one.

The company also declined to comment on the timing of its entry into China. It was studying business opportunities in the market.

website of CBRC: www.cbrc.gov.cn

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