Mastercard revels in India's booming credit market

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BOMBAY -- Payments franchise MasterCard International has further consolidated its lead over rival Visa International in India's booming credit cards market by reporting a 40% growth in card sales volume in fiscal 1996.

The number of MasterCard card users crossed 1.3 million, who spent $410m in the year, the payments franchise claimed. In comparison, Visa's Indian cardholders numbered 750,000, though it reported a higher growth rate of 84%, with $222.3m spent by local cardholders till September 1996.

"We continue to expect a strong growth in India because of the efforts of our existing partners and new member banks joining the MasterCard family," says J. Sannon, MasterCard's senior VP and general manager for South Asia.

Purchases of goods and services on credit have received a tremendous fillip over the past six years of India's economic liberalization drive. Consequently, the credit card market, with an annual growth rate of 40% to 50%, is one of the fastest growing in the country.

MasterCard this year introduced Maestro, its new debit card. There were 22.2 million Maestro cards in circulation in Asia-Pacific by 1996 yearend, MasterCard said. The region in 1996 accounted for $148.7bn, or 26.9% of MasterCard's total worldwide dollar card sales volume of $552.8bn, up 15.3%.

But Visa continued to retain its global No. 1 status in Asia-Pacific, with the region accounting for $171.8bn, or 29% of the total spend by Visa cardholders worldwide till December 1996. It has issued over 101.1 million cards in Asia-Pacific and recently launched its credit card in India's northern neighbor of the Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal in association with Nepal Grindlays Bank.

MAA Bozell, Bangalore, Karnataka state, handles MasterCard in India and R.K. Swamy/ BBDO Advertising, also Bangalore, has the local Visa account.

Copyright April 1997, Crain Communications Inc.

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