China Finalizes Rules for Foreign Payment Companies
China has officially opened its doors to payment companies from beyond its borders, this week unveiling the formal rules for foreign companies applying for bank-clearing privileges.
The move comes after China's State Council released new rules a year ago.
Visa and MasterCard previously have expressed interest in expanding their operations to China beyond some limited existing agreements.
China has about 5 billion payment cards in circulation and analysts estimate its payment market is worth about $8.4 trillion.
Chinese and foreign payment companies that have been in business for at least five years may apply for bank-clearing privileges, China said. Foreign issuers will be expected to hold about $152 million in capital in a Chinese company to participate, the rules indicate.
Applicants will be notified of their status within 90 days of applying, China's central bank said.
Currently China UnionPay, the country's state-operated payments company, is the only entity approved to provide bank-clearing services in China. Other companies, such as the Alibaba payments affiliate Alipay, operate payment services but cannot issue cards.