TAIPEI -- MasterCard International Inc. expects its worldwide credit card sales to rise about 27% in 1994, to $400 billion, boosted by surging demand in the Asia-Pacific region, says the card association's president and chief executive, H. Eugene Lockhart.

In an interview during the MasterCard Asia/Pacific annual meeting this week, Mr. Lockhart said MasterCard sales in Taiwan alone should surpass $500 million in 1994, up 71% from $293 million in 1993.

'Greater China' Seen as Engine

MasterCard expects the robust economies of the "Greater China" region, including Taiwan, China, and Hong Kong, to spur growth for the Asia/Pacific region.

James A. Cassin, MasterCard's president for the Asia-Pacific region, predicted the number of MasterCard credit and debit cards there will exceed 20 million by 2000, and could even reach 50 million.

In 1993, Asia-Pacific was the association's fastest-growing region in terms of numbers of cardholders, with the Greater China countries in the spotlight. Cards issued in Taiwan last year increased by 140% over 1992. Sales volume in China surged 262% in 1993, making the nation second only to the U.S. in total payment volume.

Hong Kong reported a 43% growth in sales on MasterCard cards.

More than 400 delegates from 13 countries, including more than 30 people from China, attended the MasterCard meeting.

State Banks Joining In

Financial institutions in Taiwan have shown keen interest in issuing cards that combine a bank account cash-withdrawal function with a credit facility. The country's Bureau of Monetary Affairs said 23 local banking organizations and one outside bank, Citibank, issue MasterCard and Visa cards.

As of February, 306,087 MasterCards were issued in Taiwan, compared with 1.4 million Visa cards. Seven state-run banks plan to issue MasterCards.

Until recently, the Taiwan government prohibited staterun banks from using the National Credit Card Center, the island nation's lone cardprocessing center.

Controlling stakes in the seven banks - Hua Nan Commercial Bank Ltd., Chang Hwa Commercial Bank Ltd., First Commercial Bank Ltd., Bank of Taiwan, Cooperative Bank of Taiwan, Land Bank of Taiwan17, and Medium Business Bank of Taiwan - are held by provincial governments.

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