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China Opens Financial Access

China has seen improvement in the level of financial access, thanks to new policies and regulations introduced since 2005, said an independent policy and research center in a report released Monday.

“Policies introduced since 2005 have greatly increased ownership of bank accounts and bank cards” in China, said the Consultative Group to Assist the Poor, a micro-finance policy and research center, in the joint report with the Working Group on Inclusive Finance in China, a research-based discussion platform

By the end of 2010, banks in China had issued over 2.4 billion bank cards and the Postal Savings Bank of China was reaching 475 million people, which is one third of the country’s population, noted the report.

It highlighted that policies to clean up and commercialize the banking sector have resulted in a much stronger system in China and policies to promote social harmony have widely increased banking service coverage and sustainable bank lending to rural households as well as small and medium enterprises.

“These policies have also led to an increase in the diversity of the banking sector as a whole as well as more variety of appropriate, commercially viable loan products,” said the report.

It estimated that by the end of 2010, 109 large, medium and small commercial banks had set up dedicated small business units.

“New policies introduced in China since 2005 have led to an improvement in basic banking services available to previously un- backed populations,” said Eric Duflos, CGAP’s regional representative for East Asia Pacific and report co-author.

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