Tuesday, January 9, 2001
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SBI Cards base crosses 5 lakh-mark in 2 years 

Our Banking Bureau  
Mumbai, Jan 8: SBI Cards and Payment Services (SBI Cards) - a joint venture between SBI and GE Capital - on Monday said its credit cardbase has crossed 500,000 credit cards a shade over two years into business. SBI Cards is now third in the cardbase sweep stakes behind market leader Citibank and Standard Chartered Grindlays. ``After its launch in October 1998, SBI Cards rapidly grew to 10,000 cards in just 10 months and increased this to 250,000 cards by February 2000. Since then, SBI Cards doubled to cross 500,000 cards in December 2000.''

SBI Cards is now available across 41 cities, and claims to have the ninth largest distribution network in the payment-card industry. ``The continued success of SBI Cards has been driven by the enormous brand equity of SBI and its unparalleled retail branch network, coupled with GE Capital's payment card process and technology expertise,'' SBI Cards said in a statement.

Says SBI Cards chief executive officer Iqbal Singh: ``SBI Card was launched to meet the growing needs of India's expanding middle class population for efficient payment products and services which are accessible beyond the metros. Our strategy to increase penetration and build our offerings around speed, simplicity and service is helping us rapidly realise that vision... this gives us strong momentum as we pursue our goal of 1 million cards by end-2001.''

Unveiling the plans for SBI Card in the new millennium, SBI chairman Janaki Ballabh says the speedy growth in the issue of SBI Cards has shown it to be the currency of modern India. ``We will continue in our efforts to reach a wider audience by leveraging the vast distribution network of SBI to make the card available to all,'' adds Mr Ballabh.

GE Capital Asia's president and CEO Pramod Bhasin says reaching 500,000 cards in such a short time by bringing in more users in more locations is a significant achievement by any standard. The growth of SBI Cards has been buoyed by a series of pioneering initiatives over the last six months. All seven associate banks of SBI launched their cards in collaboration with SBI Cards form June to August 2000. SBI Gold Card was launched in September 2000 followed by SBI Corporate Card the very next month.

In November'2000, the `SBI Card for Doctors' was launched - the first exclusive niche affinity product for doctors in India. SBI Cards is currently concept testing a `secured card' to be issued against the customer's fixed deposit.

Copyright © 2001 Indian Express Newspapers (Bombay) Ltd.

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