Ping An Insurance (Group) Co. plans to offer credit cards next year, becoming the first insurer in China to diversify into an industry forecast to expand more than tenfold by 2010.
Ping An will issue credit cards “as soon as possible,” Chief Operating Officer Louis Cheung said in an interview in Hong Kong yesterday. China’s second-biggest insurer gained a credit-card license and 46 bank branches when it beat out rivals with a 4.9 billion yuan ($613 million) bid for 89.24 percent of Shenzhen Commercial Bank last month.
Chairman Peter Ma is trying to build an integrated financial services business modeled after HSBC Holdings Plc, which owns 19.9 percent of the insurer. Chinese regulators ended a 13-year rule barring banks, insurance companies and brokerages from operating in each others’ businesses earlier this year, paving the way for Ping An to expand its financial services. [Full Text]