Hang Seng and ICBC (Asia) unveil expansion plans to tap potential growth The credit-card market is set for a full rebound, according to industry experts. MasterCard vice-president and Greater China business manager Danny Cheung Wai-kin estimated that credit-card spending in the fourth quarter of last year experienced at least 30 per cent year-on-year growth. He said there were signs that people were using their cards to draw cash, a practice that had been in decline in recent years. 'It's probably too early to make any predictions based on what we just saw since we still have to look at the few months down the road. But if the increased number of cash advances is sustainable, then it can be a strong indication that consumer confidence is recovering,' Mr Cheung said. In view of the potential growth, two major banks have unveiled plans to expand their credit-card businesses. Hang Seng Bank, which has 1.1 million card accounts, yesterday announced the relaunch of its Fortune MasterCard. ICBC (Asia) chief executive Zhu Qi on Monday said the lender was consolidating its credit-card business with that of Belgian Bank, which it acquired last year. The bank, which saw turnover from its card business increase 50 per cent last year, is projecting growth of between 10 and 20 per cent this year. Hang Seng's new general manager and head of wealth management William Leung Wing-cheung said the bank aimed to use the new card, which targeted customers with an annual income of $50,000 and above, to expand its card customer base. 'We are now trying to reach a particular customer segment that we have neglected before,' said Mr Leung, who expected the card to bring in about 10,000 new accounts. 'We are predicting fast growth in credit-card spending this year as the retail market has been very strong.' Hang Seng has also unveiled a joint project with Japan Airlines International to develop a mileage card. 'As tragic as the event was, I don't think the tsunami will have a serious impact on Hong Kong people's desire for overseas travel,' Mr Cheung said.