The number of credit card holders issued by various banks alone numbers over half a million, according to current estimates

KHALID BUTT, Bureau Chief, Lahore
Sep 11 - Sep 17, 2006

Plastic Money business, which is first launched in early nineties, has taken big strides since then. Though introduced a bit late here, it has grown rapidly and can now claim to have taken firm roots in our growing economy.

From barely over 140000 cards in first two years the number of card users have surpassed over 2 million and are estimated to double its number by next year.

Plastic money, which originated in U.S., has mushroomed the world over in various forms and shapes. It can be seen in the form of credit cards, debit cards, cash cards and even ATM's, the total number of credit cards issued through over two dozen banks and as 3 dozen products it has become a flourishing business.

The number of credit card holders issued by various banks alone numbers over half a million, according to current estimates. The plastic money in Pakistan was first started in Karachi but quickly it found demand all over the country. With the banking sector expanding and the economy showing a healthy growth through the liberal and innovative fiscal policies ushered by the present regime the inevitable demand of plastic money has grown manifold. With the banks competing to offer liberal credits and notably consumers demand growing plastic money has become the new buzz word everywhere. It has brought everything within an easy reach such luxuries like the purchase of a car, motor cycle, refrigerator, TV set or other items, for a common man something which was unthinkable over a decade ago. Now even an ordinary office worker, employees of private firms and government servants are all reaping the harvest of such luxuries with the help of plastic money Which was unheard of before?

The banks for are offering highly competitive credit schemes to lure the consumers and in this the magic of credit cards is playing a vital role.

The credit cards are offering dozens of products, with limits of Rs. 25,000/- at minimum and Rs. 1 million at maximum, according to figures available.

The same flexibility and range is available for the growing ATM, users which are acceptable at all banks for one net cards. M-Net cards can be used at banks.

According to reliable official estimates the growth of card holders had been 77 percent in 2005-06, rising from 30 percent in the year 2004-05. It is estimated to double in the current year and its fantastic growth is being notably registered in Punjab after Sindh province. Almost all the leading banks, especially the new entrants from Gulf and Middle East are with their aggressive marketing strategies and their innovative packages making a bid to attract various segments. In this The Bank Alfalah is playing a significant role followed by the fast emerging banks like MCB and Bank of Punjab.

The plastic money is not only breaking fresh ground but relieving pressure on its highly congested counters and crowded city branches of the banks.

Plastic money has registered a fantastic growth attracting even hitherto shy female population and students to its fold. It makes their shopping and other routine matters so simple and easy to make its utility part of their normal life.