JCB Co., Japan's largest credit card company, announced plans to join forces with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and other Chinese banks to broaden its customer base in the face of fierce competition in its home market. JCB Executive Vice President Masahiro Omoto told Bloomberg the company was in talks with ICBC and up to eight other Chinese lenders. China is thought to have on average three credit cards for every 100 of its citizens, while Japan has an average of 2.57 cards for every single citizen. Announcing its China expansion plans, the company said it wanted to gain ground on market leader Visa, which has more than 860,000 card holders in China and plans to increase that to 50m in five years. At present only Chinese banks are allowed to issue credit cards. As a result, JCB will offer the banks its brand name on the cards, enabling customers to use them at the 11.7 million restaurants and stores worldwide that accept the Japanese company's card, in return for a fee.
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