GE Money, the newly branded consumer finance arm of General Electric, plans to launch a mainland credit card and car loan service in partnership with Shenzhen Development Bank in the middle of this year. The agreement follows a deal agreed by General Electric last October but still awaiting regulatory approval to take a stake of about 8 per cent in the mainland-listed bank for up to US$100 million. David Nissen, president and chief executive of GE Consumer Finance, said in Hong Kong yesterday the consumer finance market in Asia was the fastest growing product market in which the group could focus. 'We like the entire region. We believe the growth rate in China and India will be spectacular over the next 10 to 20 years,' he said. The potential for strong growth in the mainland's personal finance market has attracted several foreign banks to take strategic equity stakes in mainland lenders and to launch co-branded cards with their partners, such as the recent initiatives by HSBC and Bank of Communications and Citigroup and Shanghai Development Bank. Mr Nissen said GE would now work with Shenzhen Development Bank to grow its consumer finance business. 'The first two products out in the middle of 2006 will be cards and auto loans,' he said. GE hopes to later expand its business into the mortgage market. But Mr Nissen offered no comment on whether GE would convert the planned co-operation in the consumer business arena into an equity venture, such as that of HSBC and Citigroup. For the moment, the priority would be developing products with Shenzhen Development Bank, he said. Although the mainland card market has shown spectacular growth in the number of cards in issue, some research analysis has indicated that most accounts were not yet profitable. Mr Nissen said he was nonetheless optimistic about both the credit card market and vehicle loan market, as he believed GE could benefit from applying to the mainland the global skills which had helped it generate average annual profit growth of 23 per cent over the past 10 years. He said the group was bullish on the region and Asia would be the No1 area in which it would continue to expand over the next five years. Several acquisitions had been made over the past six months, he said, and although organic growth was now on the cards, it would expand through further acquisitions if the opportunity arose. Asia contributed 22 per cent of GE Consumer Finance's total income last year, generated from just 12 per cent of total assets. 'We expect growth in Asia will remain faster than in the rest of the world. So the contribution from Asia will increase,' Mr Nissen said.