What a great headline, “Western Plastic Breaches Great Wall”.
- Anyone looking for signs that China is edging its way into Western consumer culture should consider this: the Bank of China, the oldest indigenous Chinese bank, now issues a Great Wall platinum Visa credit card, and it comes with a frequent-flyer rewards program.
Only 1 per cent of Chinese citizens hold Western-style credit cards; usually the wealthiest of urban sophisticates. Most people use cash for everything; they have no bank accounts or have never been offered credit by a bank. What little personal lending occurs is usually informally arranged among friends, family or business associates.
Foreign banks will be allowed to offer banking services within China beginning in 2007. Currently 704 million bank cards are in circulation in China, most of which are debit cards.