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ICICI closes in on credit cards leader Citibank

BS Banking Bureau in Mumbai | October 01, 2003 09:57 IST

A significant change has taken place in the credit card market pecking order. ICICI Bank has now become the second largest issuer with more than 1.6 million cards and currently trails only Citibank, which has a base of 1.8 million cards.

But the Citi number includes around 100,000 Diners cards, which is a charge card. Standard Chartered Bank is now the third largest issuer with a 1.5-million card base. SBI Cards, the fourth player, has a card base of around 1.2 million.

However, StanChart has the highest share of card outstandings in the market with a 30 per cent share of spends and outstandings of the industry.

ICICI Bank executive director Chanda Kochhar said, "We are the fastest growing card issuer in the country. The base has crossed 1.6 million. We have done this in three-and-a-half years whereas others have taken eight to nine years." ICICI Bank launched its credit cards in January 2000.

She said the bank is adding around 100,000 credit cards and around 150,000 new cards a month. The debit card base of the bank currently stands at 40 lakhs (4 million).

The industry in recent times has been inundated by free cards issued by banks. Dormant cards (those not used) is estimated at around 40-45 per cent of the total issuance.

The average credit card spend is between $350 and $400 per card per annum, translating to around Rs 16,000 to Rs 18,500, said Visa's managing director Santanu Mukherjee.

Kochhar said, "The silver card spend is at around Rs 24,000 per annum, while for co-branded cards it is at Rs 34,000 per annum." She added that 75 per cent of ICICI's cards are active cards.

ICICI Bank plans to concentrate on the co-branded card section in order to jog up the numbers and card spends.

"Going forward co-branded cards would be the biggest segment. We are looking at various segments like travel, telecom, retailing, petroleum and healthcare. Around 50 per cent of the new cards issued and also spends on cards will come from co-branded cards.

"The spends on co-branded cards are more as such cards provide move value and also benefits to customers, bank and the partner," said Kochhar.

She also added that ICICI Bank-HPCL card had now crossed the 500,000 card base. "This is the fastest growing co-branded card in the country," pointed Kochhar. The bank also has co-branded cards BPL Mobile and Trinetra.

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