KARACHI, Aug 19: The fast changing life style has made plastic money popular in Pakistan and in last 12 months more than a million credit cards were used to transact goods and services worth more than half-a-billion dollars.

Competing in the credit cards market are the big names of the international and domestic business. Visa International claims to be the leader with a circulation of 845,000 credit cards in Pakistan. In the last one year, the retail sales volume in Pakistan, or spending at the point of sale using Visa card touched $430 million, showing an increase of more than 60 per cent.

Citibank and Standard Chartered Bank are also in the credit card market. Each one of the two is said to be having around 33 per cent share. Askari Bank is the next issuer with 14 per cent, followed by Union Bank eight per cent and Alfalah Bank six per cent.

A fast growth in the credit card market has encouraged Visa to announce opening of its office in Pakistan next year for further expansion of the business. Visa International boasts of handling more than $3 trillion business in a year.

James Murray, Executive Vice-President Visa, South and Southeast Asia, informed reporters here recently that Pakistan remained an important market for his company. Santanu Mukherjee, country manager for South Asia, said that his company was responding to the growing business volume in Pakistan.

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