Bank card use is growing explosively as capitalism makes headway in China, Visa International said.
Payment volume on Visa debit cards issued by Chinese banks reached $9.3 billion in the 12 months ending March 31 - an increase of 333% from the previous year.
The number of cards rose 288% to 1.87 million.
Credit Cards on Horizon
"The reason for the phenomenal growth is that buusinessmen are going interprovince" and need to draw from accounts at their home bases for cash and expenses, said Carl Pascarella, president of Visa International's Asia-Pacific region.
He said Visa, by expanding its payment system and training Chinese bankers in credit approval and monitoring, is hastening the day when credit cards will be issued to the Chinese people.
With the United States market reaching maturity - a phenomenon reflected in slow growth in the amount of cardholders and in merchant acceptance - emerging Asian markets are expected to fuel future growth.
Mr. Pascarella cited Taiwan as a precursor of what to expect from such countries as China, India, and Vietnam.
Since trade and foreign exchange restrictions were relaxed two years ago, he said, Taiwanese banks have issued a million credit cards, most of them Visa cards.
Overseas spending charged to Taiwanese credit cards has surpassed that of Korean and Australian cardholders and now ranks second in the region behind Japan, Mr. Pascarella said.
Sees Other Issuers Profiting
Citicorp, Chase Manhattan Corp., and BankAmerica Corp. all issue cards in Asia, the Visa official said.
He added that other U.S. card issuers will benefit from the increase in spending by Asian tourists and from greater worldwide card acceptance.