The People's Republic of China, continuing its thrust for economic growth, will be developing an adVanced domestic payments system with the help of Visa International.

Visa will proffer technology and training to Ji Tong Communications Co., which is owned by China's Ministry of the Electronic Industry. The company is helping Ji Tong build a nationwide settlement system under China's Golden Card Project.

Visa already provides 90% of the country's card transaction connections in Beijing, Shanghai, Shenzen, and Guangzhou -- through VisaNet, the only card authorization system in mainland China.

There are 45,000 Chinese merchants, mainly hotels, restaurants, and some department stores, that accept credit and debit cards.

They are concentrated in the four major cities connected through VisaNet, said Visa spokesman David Brancoli.

Visa's advanced technology and software will help build regional and international payment networks in the country, creating the infrastructure to increase national and international card use and acceptance in the most populous nation in the world, he added.

Visa anticipates more than 100 million debit cards will be in circulation by the turn of the century.

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