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ICICI plays its cards right, pips Citibank

04-January-2005
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ICICI plays its cards right, pips Citibank

ICICI Bank now claims it has 3 mn credit cards while Citibank says it has 2.5 mn cards.

Citibank is no longer quite the king of the Indian credit card market. It has been dethroned by ICICI Bank, which now claims it has 3 million credit cards.

Citibank plays catch up with 2.5 million cards. Standard Chartered Bank is in third spot, with a card base of 1.6 million, closely followed by the State Bank of India (SBI), with 1.5 million cards issued and HSBC with 0.9 million.

ICICI Bank's leap to the top slot is partly due to its recently concluded high-decibel cash-back promotional offer.

According to industry observers, credit card spends and numbers have increased hugely in the recent past, with promotional offers flooding the market.

The festive season typically brings about a 30 per cent jump in credit card spends. The industry grew by 37 per cent in terms of cards issued in 2003-04, up from 25 per cent in the previous year.

While ICICI Bank and HSBC ran promotional cash back offers during the festive season last year, Citibank is offering a permanent cash-back feature on its cash back credit card.

ICICI Bank offered 5 per cent cash-back on all purchases with a value of over Rs 1,000 and HSBC offered 10 per cent cash-back on specified purchases. Citibank offers 1-5 per cent cash back on all purchases, provided one registers for a cash back card. Citibank's offer is not a time bound promotional offer.

A recent annual credit card survey by consumer payment processing company Venture Infotek revealed that in March 2004 Citibank and ICICI Bank had identical market shares in terms of the number of credit cards issued, but when it came to spending patterns ICICI Bank lagged far behind.

While each had a 21 per cent share in the fast growing credit card market, in terms of spends at merchant establishments it was a different story. Here, Citibank garnered a neat 26 per cent, while ICICI Bank had a mere 12 per cent, which is comparable to that of SBI.

The total amount spent through credit cards at merchant establishments was Rs 20,555 crore in 2003-04, reflecting 28 per cent growth over the previous year.

These figures were compiled by Venture Infotek in its fourth annual industry survey, 2004.

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