Microsoft signed a cooperation deal on Tuesday with a big Chinese bank, a potentially major enterprise customer in the country for its financial products and services.
Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer attended a signing event in Beijing for the deal. Agricultural Bank of China, one of China's four big state-owned banks, will rely on Microsoft products and the U.S. company's global service network as it rolls out projects such as advanced online banking, the companies said in a statement.
The companies' vague statement did not disclose a value for the products and services Microsoft will provide, but it suggested a large, long-term deal. The bank plans to spend up to five years upgrading its IT systems, it said. It will work with Microsoft to create an information portal for business clients and a multimedia system for bank operations. The bank has previously worked with Microsoft on online banking, the statement said.
Few Chinese manage their bank accounts online, but Internet users often shop for everything from makeup to laptops online and make payments through online service providers. Credit cards are rare in the country and many online payments are made directly from a linked bank account or using widely available prepaid cards from companies like China Mobile.