The world’s largest commercial bank ICBC launched its bid to promote its dual-currency credit card outside China on Monday – with international investor Jim Rogers among the first holders.
The dual-currency credit card came with two accounts, with one of them in Renminbi and the other in the local currency – the Singapore dollar in this case. Holders of the card can pay for their bills in China in yuan and settle the transactions in yuan, and using money from the Singapore dollar account to pay for the bills outside China.
Li Xiaopeng, executive director and vice president of ICBC, said the bank designed the product to rise demand for consumers using the Renminbi as trade, tourism and overseas education activities grow.
"It will save customers’ costs of currency conversions, provide higher interest rates and potential returns from the appreciation of the Renminbi," he said.
The launch of the credit card on Monday is also party of ICBC’s strategy to go international. The bank said it planned to launch the dual currency credit cards in 17 countries and regions outside China this year.
Li said the bank had issued about 66.7 million credit cards by the end of the first quarter, making it the world’s fourth largest issuer of credit cards. It has already launched the Renminbi and U.S. dollar dual-currency card in the Chinese mainland, and also dual currency-cards in the special administrative regions of Hong Kong and Macao.
The dual currency will mainly be catered to the needs of the Chinese expatriates in Singapore and those who often go to China on business trips.
The global launch of the dual-currency credit cards will also help push forward the bid for the Renminbi to go international, Li said.
ICBC also signed an agreement with China UnionPay to jointly develop the card business and expand card operations in overseas markets. Su Ning, president of China UnionPay, said the company will serve customers worldwide.
Jim Rogers was among the first group of ten holders of the Renminbi-Singapore dollar card issued on Monday.
Rogers said his first visit China was in 1984, and he opened his first Renminbi bank account in 1999. "I will use this card tomorrow," said Rogers.
Jim Rogers has taught finance at Columbia University’s business school and is a media commentator worldwide. He is the author of Adventure Capitalist, Investment Biker, Hot Commodities, A Gift to My Children, and A Bull in China. See his website.