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In an apparent sign of the growing sophistication of the Chinese lending market, Chinese citizens made at least 150,000 inquiries about credit records in June, the People's Bank of China says, up from 1,000 inquiries in January 2005. The increase in inquiries comes after China's financial authorities expanded the information included in the country's credit-information system, which now covers more than 600 million consumers and includes such data as credit card, bill repayment and loan histories, the bank says in a statement. People's Bank did not say how many of the June inquiries related to credit cards, nor did it release other figures for comparison. The move to make more credit-related information available to citizens will help issuers attract more-profitable cardholders, an analyst tells CardLine Global. "Once banks know more about customers, they can provide increased credit limits that can eventually increase interest income," says Hua Zhang, an analyst with the China office of United States-based research firm Celent LLC. He says credit cards brought in at least US$2.9 billion in revenue for issuers in China in 2007. Chinese consumers hold far more debit cards than credit cards, according to various estimates.

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