Visa International, vying with MasterCard for market share in China and six lucrative card processing projects there, has appointed a Chinese banker to its Asia-Pacific board.
Liu Ting Huan, executive vice president of the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, becomes the board's first director from China.
Visa, which has seven member banks in China, describes ICBC as the nation's largest, with 35,000 branches, 500 million deposit accounts, and three million credit cards in circulation.
Lindsay C. Pyne, president of Visa International Asia Pacific, says the addition of Mr. Liu will strengthen the San Francisco-based association's focus in China. He sees China as "an increasingly important market" due to its backing of the six Golden Card projects, which are aimed at building a national consumer electronic payment system.
Visa teamed last year with Ji Tong Communications Ltd., a subsidiary of China's Ministry of Electronics Industry, to support the Golden Card initiative.
MasterCard, which says it has won the rights to the first project, in Guangzhou, has had a director from China for several years. The New York- based association's current representative is Yang Huiqiu, executive vice president of the Bank of China.
Visa refuses to concede Guangzhou to MasterCard. And a recent Hong Kong newspaper report suggested that the agreement has been canceled.
MasterCard, which says its participation is limited to technological and training assistance, dismisses the article as erroneous. The association cited a letter it said it had received from People's Bank four days after the article appeared, supposedly confirming its role in Guangzhou.
MasterCard says it has made a bid for the second Golden Card project, scheduled for Beijing. A decision there should be made by the end of April. Visa will not say yet if it is bidding on the second project.
Describing China's card market potential as "tremendous," Mr. Liu pledged that his bank would work closely with Visa to develop systems in the nation.
"I hope to contribute to Visa's success in providing services to member banks in China and throughout Asia-Pacific," said Mr. Liu.
Before joining Industrial and Commercial in 1985, Mr. Liu, 52, was president of the People's Bank of China's Dalian branch. Mr. Liu, who earned a degree in finance from North Eastern Finance and Economic University in Beijing, began his managerial career with the People's Bank of China.
In a separate move, Visa appointed Patrick G. Phillips to its international board.
Mr. Phillips, president of financial products for NationsBank Corp., replaces Thomas Boland, chairman of Wachovia Corp., who is retiring from the Visa board.
A graduate of Darden School at the University of Virginia with a master's degree in business administration, Phillips serves on the Darden School Foundation Board of Trustees and is a director of the Consumer Bankers Association.