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Overseas banks see no rush
Latest Updated by 2007-04-24 10:08:19
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While many people made inquiries at a subbranch of HSBC in Shenzhen yesterday, the day it began accepting yuan deposits from private Chinese clients, a very small number actually opened accounts.

"The response is as expected. People have heard about the news quite a while and some called to make inquiries. We are planning to roll out other new services in the near future, including diversified RMB investment products and RMB insurance distribution. Those services may draw more people," said Sheila Zeng, operations manager of an HSBC branch on the first floor of Coco Park, Futian District.

Outlets of HSBC, Citibank and Standard Chartered around th0e country, including 10 in Shenzhen, began to provide retail yuan services to Chinese customers from yesterday, aiming to woo potential clients with better services than what local lenders usually provide.

They have also been authorized to offer loans to individuals.

Bank of East Asia, with four outlets in Shenzhen, will launch the services later this week.

Before yesterday, their RMB services for local residents were limited to time deposits of no less than 1 million yuan each.

The banks, however, have said they mainly intend to promote wealth management services and target China's wealthier customers.

Zeng refused to disclose the exact number of clients who opened yuan accounts at her bank yesterday, but only two opened new accounts within a period of 40 minutes in the afternoon.

In separate rooms at the HSBC branch furnished with comfortable red sofas, smiling client managers patiently explained every detail about the services offered and recommended suitable investment portfolios to clients.

The main deterrent for most prospective clients seems to be the high monthly service fees charged by the bank.

With an minimum monthly account balance of 500,000 yuan (US$64,000) or its equivalent, customers can enjoy Premier services without a monthly service charge at HSBC. For Premier accounts with a balance below that threshold, a monthly fee of 300 yuan is charged. For non-Premier accounts, a monthly fee charge of 150 yuan will be waived only if an average minimum monthly account balance of 100,000 yuan or its equivalent is maintained.

Citibank will charge a 100-yuan monthly fee for non-VIP accounts if the average monthly account balance drops lower than 80,000 yuan or its equivalent. Standard Chartered charges 150 yuan for non-VIP accounts each quarter if the quarterly balance is lower than 80,000 yuan or its equivalent.

The "big four" domestic commercial banks, Bank of Communications, China Merchants Bank and Shenzhen Development Bank also charge an account management fee, but this is much lower. For non-VIP accounts, they often charge a 10-yuan annual fee.

Editor: Yan

By: Li Dan Source: Szdaily web edition
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