If you think about credit cards in America and you envision card companies such as MBNA
But cast your glance a little farther away and you may spot some rich opportunities for growth. At one end of the wealth spectrum are nations like ours, and at the other end, as our Foolanthropic charities have pointed out, billions live on less than $2 per day (40% of humanity does, in fact). (It's not too late to contribute to one of the impressive charitable organizations we support -- click over and learn about them.) In the middle are hundreds of millions of people around the world who walk around and buy lots of things without the help of plastic cards. But that may change soon.
An American Express executive noted that credit cards in China have been doubling in number in recent years. That pace can't be sustained forever, but even a few years of 100% growth can generate some solid income for card issuers. (Perhaps, soon, millions of Chinese will be filling their wallets with spiffy Motley Fool Visa cards?)
Let's just hope that the Chinese don't fall prey to the dark side of credit cards, as so many Americans have done -- winding up mired in very-hard-to-dig-out-from debt. If you or anyone you care about is struggling with credit card debt, head to our Credit Center, which features tips on getting out of debt (including a free online seminar), along with guidance on how to manage your credit effectively.
Our Credit Card discussion board is also a happening place, where you might find yourself inspired by Fool s relating how they've paid off thousands in debts.
Longtime Fool contributor Selena Maranjian does not own shares of any companies mentioned in this article.