Citigroup Inc, the New York-based financial giant, will make development of its credit business a top priority in the Chinese market this year.
Andrew Au, CEO of Citi (China) Co Ltd, said on Thursday that the performance of Citibank's credit card business, which was kicked off in September, has been "satisfactory", and the lender will continue its investment in the sector.
Simon Chow, head of Citi China's consumer banking unit, said this year it will open two credit card sales centers - in Chengdu, Sichuan province, and Hangzhou, Zhejiang province - while developing one or two new types of cards.
"The credit card business has been growing at a faster-than-expected pace, and we will put more staff into it," he said.
Chow said the bank expects to establish broad strategic partnerships with merchants and improve customer service this year.
He said that Citi also plans to start working with some major online payment companies, but declined to elaborate.
The recent central government move to reduce the interchange fee - the sum that merchants pay to banks and credit card processors for accepting credit cards - will hit the market greatly, but won't hurt Citi as much as its Chinese counterparts, Chow said.
"We focused on merchants such as hotels, traveling and shopping businesses, which would be less affected than the wholesale sector. In addition, a large percentage of purchases made by our credit cards take place abroad, and overseas interchange fees are usually triple the fees in China," he said.
On Monday, banks in China started to implement new standards of interchange fees set by the National Development and Reform Commission.
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