Chinese payment market to approve foreign firms

Foreign card schemes that are already present in China are mainly issued in collaboration with UnionPay

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Chinese payment market to approve foreign firms. Source:

China is gradually opening up its card payments market for international operators, according to GlobalData. The country has the world’s largest card payments market, in terms of payment value, accounting for $16.5 trillion in 2019.

The Chinese payment card market has traditionally been a closed market with high entry barriers. The licensing for foreign operators will bring competitiveness to the market, which is predominantly occupied by state-owned domestic card scheme UnionPay
Ravi Sharma, Banking and Payments Lead Analyst at GlobalData

In 2012, the World Trade Organization (WTO) directed the Chinese government to open up its payment card market to foreign competitors, however, it didn’t result in any progress.

Nevertheless, in February 2020, Mastercard has received approval from the People’s Bank of China to set up a domestic bankcard clearing business in the country.

American Express became the first foreign card network to get approval from China in November 2018.  Meanwhile, Visa is also planning to set up a company in China and seeking for a clearing license.

GlobalData stated that all local transactions are processed by UnionPay while foreign schemes are only able to manage overseas transactions. However, the new licensing enables foreign schemes to process transactions locally via their own infrastructure.

The study also unveiled that the cards market is less attractive compared to the 2000s since mobile has become the dominant form of payment in China.



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