Citigroup Inc. has won approval to issue debit cards in China, giving it more access to the nation's $2.8 trillion of household savings.

Citibank China Co. plans to sell cards "in the near future," the New York company announced Wednesday.

China Union Pay Co. will process the transactions.

Foreign lenders hope that offering debit cards will help them expand their coverage in China and increase brand awareness, by deploying automated teller machines and services such as online banking.

Foreign banks have less than 1% as many branches in China as its four top state-owned banking companies. Citigroup has 25 branches in China.

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