DAH Sing Bank is bargaining with the Hong Kong Monetary Authority, the territory's central bank, about retaining the left-over licence of Wing On Bank. Negotiations centre on whether Dah Sing Bank should surrender the licence of the bank, which it took over in 1993. 'The discussion is about whether we have a separate business plan to justify keeping the licence to our group,' said Ronald Carstairs, managing director of Dah Sing Bank. After acquiring the 16-branch Wing On Bank, Dah Sing's branches expanded to 50. All but one Wing On branch were converted to Dah Sing Bank branches. The remaining Central branch forms the basis of the discussions. A similar situation occurred with Dah Sing's 1987 acquisition of Hongkong Industrial and Commercial Bank (HICB). All branches were converted except for one in Central. The HICB licence has been kept to this day. In January, Dah Sing sold 40 per cent of its stake in HICB to People's Construction Bank of China and HICB was subsequently renamed Jian Sing Bank. 'For HICB, we have a special permission to keep the licence, but for Wing On's licence, it is different. We have only a small chance of retaining the licence,' said Mr Carstairs. A spokesman, in clarifying the HKMA's stance, said that in a takeover situation, sufficient reason from the purchaser must be given in order to keep the additional licence. 'We would like to see the banks consolidated as a single entity unless there are really good reasons not to do so. We do not encourage the trading of licence,' the spokesman said. The merger with Wing On not only increased Dah Sing's size, making it the fifth-largest locally incorporated banking group in the territory, but also its business scope. The greatly enlarged branch network has spurred Dah Sing, a traditionally trade finance and hire-purchase bank, to venture into personal finance services. Having launched its personal loan service, the bank yesterday unveiled its credit card programme, moving into the highly competitive consumer credit market. While it is not surprising to find programmes offering cash rewards based on the amount of purchases and the interest paid on cash advances, Dah Sing will also reward cardholders who change their loyalty. As a poaching technique, cardholders who transfer the outstanding balances from other credit-card accounts to Dah Sing's will earn one point for every $200 transferred. One point means one dollar credited to the holders' account. 'The features are specially designed to differentiate ours from others in the market,' said Mr Carstairs.