Fri, Nov 26, 2004 - Page 10 News List

Union Bank and Taipei First ally to issue credit card

By Jackie Lin  /  STAFF REPORTER

The nation's fourth-largest credit card issuer, Union Bank of Taiwan (聯邦銀行), yesterday announced a strategic alliance with Taipei First Credit Cooperative (台北一信) to issue its smaller partner's co-branded credit cards.

Their cooperation marks the first time two of the nation's financial institutions have worked together to launch co-branded cards, as such products are generally issued by banks and a non-bank partner, including department stores, bookstore chains or airline companies.

Chen Sheng (陳勝), president of Taipei First, lauded the alliance as a big step for the institution to expand its business scope and better serve its 45,000 members and hundreds of thousands of savings account customers.

"With the help of Union Bank, we need not put in enormous investments in building up the system needed to deal with credit-card holders' information, nor do we need to worry about our limited human resources," Chen said at a press conference yesterday to unveil the new products.

Established in 1917, Taipei First is the nation's oldest credit cooperative, with 22 outlets in Taipei. Through the cooperation deal with Union Bank, Chen projected the bank would issue 50,000 credit cards in one year.

Addressing the launch ceremony, Union Bank's president Lee Shian-chang (李憲章) said by making use of the bank's equipment, call center and its rich experience in the credit card business, Taipei First's customers will be offered more refined services and the two institutions do not rule out the possibility of joining forces on other business fronts.

But amid market speculation that the alliance is a warm-up for Union Bank to merge with Taipei First, Lee denied the conjecture.

"We are only responsible for issuing Taipei First's credit cards and managing its client information. There is no merger plan," he said.

The bank, however, will bid for Chung Shing Bank (中興銀行) as the Central Depository Insurance Corp (中央存保) plans to auction off the debt-ridden institution on Dec. 9, said Jeff Lin (林鴻聯), vice president of Union Bank's consumer financing department.

With 2.7 million credit cards in circulation, Union Bank intends to increase the number of its outlets from 40 to between 60 and 80 in the next two to three years, Lee said at another event earlier this week.

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