Visa ready for China market opening

Visa ready for China market opening

Visa Inc, the world's biggest card payments network, is gearing up to participate in yuan-denominated business in China, as regulators prepare to release rules facilitating foreign players to enter domestic market possibly as soon as July.

Jeff Liao, country manager of Visa Information Systems (Shanghai) Co Ltd, told China Daily that his fingers are crossed for the opportunity to launch its first single-branded Visa card in China as soon as possible.

"We can support banks to issue a Visa product at any time, if the regulations allow," Liao said.

He added Visa is also open to the option of purchasing a local company, while emphasizing it could also grow organically through developing its own products.

"We're waiting to see what identity Visa can have, what business we can do, and to what extent we can progress to get access to the domestic market."

He said the company is yet to apply to the central bank for any kind of renminbi license.

Chinese laws require foreign credit card companies to co-brand with Chinese partners to support their card services, or to process interbank point-of-sale transactions.

New rules on how foreign players can participate in the domestic payment and clearing system are expected to be announced at the end of July, but when they will become effective is still unknown, according to sources familiar with the matter.

A World Trade Organisation panel concluded in July 2012 that China acted inconsistently with its market access commitment in maintaining China UnionPay Co Ltd as a monopoly supplier for the clearing of yuan-denominated payment card transactions.

Disputes between Visa and UnionPay intensified in 2010, after Visa warned banks not to adopt the UnionPay payment system to process international transactions for co-branded Visa and UnionPay credit cards circulated in places other than the Chinese mainland.

"We always believe that an increasingly open market could generate more competition, which will bring innovation and provide consumers with better choices and services," Liao said.

"As prices go down and the whole market grows bigger, benefits could be shared by all parties, including consumers and financial institutions."

Visa has set a target that more than half of its global business will be generated from markets other than the United States by 2015.

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