Five banks will become the first foreign lenders to issue their own credit cards in China, AP reported. The China Banking Regulatory Commission (CBRC) said Citigroup, HSBC, Standard Chartered, Bank of East Asia and Hang Seng Bank will be allowed to issue credit cards without local partners once they meet "technical standards." The CBRC did not give a date for when foreign banks could start issuing cards independently. Foreign banks have issued credit cards since 2004 through Chinese banks. Citigroup and HSBC were the first two foreign institutions to do so. The number of credit cards in China rose from 3 million in 2003 to more than 40 million in 2006.