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China Opens its Doors to Mastercard

Mastercard announced today it has received approval from the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) to set up a domestic bankcard clearing institution in China. PBOC has given Mastercard, along with its partner NetsUnion Clearing Corp (NUCC), one year to begin clearing activity in China.

This move comes after a long period of restricted payment card operations in China. For the past ten years, foreign payment card companies could only tap into China’s credit card market via partnership with state-run UnionPay.

“China is a vital market for us and we have reiterated our unwavering commitment to helping drive a safer, more inclusive and seamless payments ecosystem for Chinese consumers and businesses,” said Mastercard President and CEO Ajay Banga. “We remain focused on working with the Chinese government and local partners to grow the overall payments infrastructure.”

According to Bloomberg, which estimates the payments market in China to be $27 trillion, the country has 8.2 billion bank cards in circulation 90% of which are debit cards.

Thanks to a recent trade deal with the U.S., China has ended the monopoly of state-run payments and so far has already opened its doors to American Express and PayPal after the payments company took a 70% stake in China-based GoPay.