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Visa Inc. is considering a joint venture in China with the country's only payment network, China UnionPay Ltd., according to press reports last week.

An article published by the Singapore news media and trade and investment research company China Knowledge Holdings Pte Ltd., citing anonymous sources, said Visa is considering the venture as a way to expand in the Chinese market.

Though no such deal has been signed, Visa "will continue to seek opportunities to acquire a stake" in UnionPay, the sources said.

A spokesman for the San Francisco payments company said Friday that it does not discuss market rumors.

According to China Knowledge, the Chinese government's "setting down management rules and measures for bank cards payment and liquidation businesses" may create a more favorable environment for foreign companies like Visa and its rival payments network, MasterCard Inc., to consider such ventures.

Discover Financial Services signed a reciprocal acceptance agreement with China UnionPay in 2005.

Discover's Pulse Network LLC accepts UnionPay cards, and Discover cards can be used at China UnionPay merchant locations and automated teller machines in that country.

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