Bank card use on the rise in China

Willingness on behalf of Chinese consumers to pay using a bank card has increased, with more than 46 percent of the country’s third-quarter retail sales completed using a bank card.

Chinese banks issued 3.4 billion bank cards before the end of the third quarter, a 21.2 percent year-over-year increase. More than 800 Chinese consumers are expected to have at least one bank card before the end of the year, Global Times reports.

Approximately 318 million credit cards were issued by the end of the third quarter, an 18.8 percent year-over-year increase, though the growth rate was 1.5 percentage points lower than the same period last year.

“Unlike the aggressive expansion to grab market share in recent years, commercial banks implemented stricter rules for credit card issuance this year due to increasing default risks and the overall tight credit environment,” Zhang Guoqiang, an industry analyst at, said, according to Global Times.

Data from the People’s Bank of China, the nation’s central bank, revealed that credit card loans more than six months overdue amounted to $2.32 billion by the end of September, an 8.8 percent increase quarter-over-quarter, and accounted for 1.4 percent of total outstanding loans.

Zhang said that the number of bank card transactions that account for retail sales is “still lower than that in developed countries, where it amounts to up to 70 percent,” Global Times reports.

Beginning Feb. 25, some of China’s businesses will pay 23 to 40 percent less for transaction fees using a bank card as the People’s Bank of China prepares to reduce swipe fees.

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