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Integrated banking service goes online
Date:2010/10/18      View:922
China's central bank on Friday launched an online interbank payment system which will allow customers to make real-time transfers between lenders and balance inquiries through a single website.

A first batch of 129 banks will adopt the new online clearing system, with a capped transaction limit of 50,000 yuan ($7,463).

Although only commercial banks are allowed to access the system, the central bank is drafting regulations so third-party online payment companies will be able to adopt the system soon.

Often dubbed "the super e-banking system", it was designed to make online banking more convenient by providing a "one-stop shop" for customers, with all the online systems of commercial banks integrated into a single website.

"The system will allow customers to make online interbank transactions and payments anytime, anywhere," said Ouyang Weimin, director of the Payment System Department of the People's Bank of China.

The fees for the new service have yet to be finalized, but they will be reasonable as it is a non-profit making venture, he said.

China's e-banking market has experienced rapid growth, with online customers exceeding 140 million.

In 2009, online banking transactions and non-cash payments totaled 120.8 billion yuan, according to the central bank, which launched on Aug 30 a trial run of the system, in which 29 commercial banks, including the four State-owned banks, participated.

By the end of September, the online clearing system had recorded 720,000 transactions with a total of 8.1 billion yuan, according to the nation's central bank.

Beijing, Tianjin, Guangzhou and Shenzhen are the first pilot cities, but the system will expand gradually to others in the country.

Ouyang rejected concerns that the new system will affect operations of other third-party Internet payment providers such as Alibaba's Alipay, the country's largest third-party online payment company.

"The system won't affect third-party online payment because it provides an online interbank clearing service rather than an e-business service," he said. "The two systems have different functions and, in fact, complement each other."

China's online payment industry has been growing at more than 100 percent annually over the past five years.

Turnover for third-party payments reached 208.3 billion yuan in the second quarter of this year, an increase of 86.8 percent year-on-year, according to the Internet analysis company iResearch.
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