India-based ICICI Bank Ltd. today announced its U.S. branch in New York will begin to issue Visa check cards. The bank will offer the debit cards to its Global Indian Account and other checking-account customers. The Global Indian Account is designed for Indians moving to the United States who need access to local banking services. ICICI, which also issues Visa-branded cards in India, opened the New York branch in March 2008. "[This agreement is] an indication of the globalization of the banking industry, and this is really an extension of our partnership with ICICI in India," Stacey Pinkerd, Visa head of global consumer debit products, tells CardLine sister publication ATM&Debit News. The agreement also falls in line with Visa's goal of getting "a Visa debit card in the hands of every one of our partner financial institutions and then into their customers' hands," Pinkerd says. The Indian population in the U.S. presents Visa with another demographic on which to focus, given the group's tendency to use cross-border funds transfers, according to Pinkerd. There were 2.57 million Indian-Americans living in the U.S. as of 2007, according to the U.S. Census Bureau's American Community Survey. That figure does not include Indians visiting or staying in the country who are not citizens.

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