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Asia Pacific credit cards: HSBC's Hong Kong example leads the way

28th April 2006
By Emily Tonkin

HSBC has reported strong credit card uptake in the Asia Pacific region.

On April 24, 2006, HSBC announced it had experienced double-digit growth in credit card take-up and spending across Asia Pacific over 2005. In particular, the success in Hong Kong's highly concentrated market is commendable. This growth is expected to continue in the near future with emerging economies, in particular China, increasingly using credit cards as a method of payment.

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HSBC has announced its double-digit growth rates in credit card issuance and spending across Asia-Pacific. It stated that it had currently issued 8.5 million credit cards across the region and both card spending and credit card receivables had increased by more than 30% over 2005.

The London-based bank noted that this success was attributable to the escalating growth in the emerging credit card markets including India, Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines. It stated that over 2005 credit card spending in the Philippines grew at 82% while in India it grew by 62%. In terms of credit card receivables, the Philippines and India reported growth of 89% and 77% respectively.

HSBC's strong growth records are also driven by its success in Hong Kong where it now has 2.8 million credit cards issued and expects there to be 3 million by the end of 2006. Credit card spending and receivable growth increased by 22% and 33% respectively, ahead of the average for other issuers at 15% and 5% respectively. In addition, its average card spend was three times that of other issuers at HK$3,696.

This represents significant achievement by HSBC in Hong Kong. According to the bank's regional head of customer acquisition, Lucia Ku Sai-wing, much of this success is due to a series of promotional campaigns and enhanced rewards programs. Ms Ku also said that promotional costs would rise by more than 30% in 2006 to maintain HSBC's status quo.

Given the success of HSBC's Hong Kong credit card portfolio, it will no doubt spur on other issuers to follow suit and increase their marketing expenses.

In regards to the Asia-Pacific region, issuers can expect continued double digit growth as emerging economies continue to develop their credit card markets and this method of payment becomes more popular. In addition, the size of China's credit card market and its expected growth will further increase the portfolios of issuers in the region, provided they can get a foothold.
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