According to ChinaDaily, as of the end of last year, lenders in China had issued 1.5 billion bank cards, including debit cards, credit cards and quasi-credit cards. Of the
huge sum, active cards, which were used at least once every month, were only about 80 million, less than 10 percent of the total.
These figures come from China UnionPay, the nation's leading bank card network operator. The article says that as cheques aren't common in China, and cash and debit cards are the most popular payment method, that the 'sleeping card' issue is an opportunity
and shows the potential of the Chinese card market.
What it doesn't mention is the heavy use of virtual currencies for online purchases and entertainment services in China. Instant messaging and online gaming operator Tencent alone has more than 160 million registered users in mainland China, with 40-50 million
accounts online each day.
And its QQ coin currency caused big issues for Chinese monetary policy last year when exchange for "real-world" yuan on online auction sites and small storefronts was getting out of hand.
Other online companies such as Baidu, Sina and Netease all also have their own virtual currencies (Baidu Coins, U Coins and POPO coins respectively).
With China's internet users
recently hitting the 250 million mark, it would probably be safe to say that each month more Chinese people make a transaction using a virtual currency than using a bank-issued card.
Any thoughts on whether this might be true? Does anyone have any definitive figures that could prove / disprove this?