Western banks are making slow progress to get access to the domestic card market in China. Citigroup this week became the first to launch a credit card in China independently and not through a partnership with a local co-issuer.
From a Bloomberg article:
The cards will be denominated in yuan or dollars and accepted worldwide, the third-largest U.S. lender by assets said today in an e-mailed statement. China UnionPay, the nation’s largest electronic-payment network, will process payments within China, while MasterCard Inc. (MA) and Visa Inc. will handle cards internationally, the bank said.
Citigroup is expanding its ability to reach Chinese consumers with the cards, opening its 50th retail branch this month and confirming plans to double that within three years.
Previously, only Hong Kong-based Bank of Asia was allowed to issue credit cards in China.
The Chinese government has allowed foreign banks to compete in the domestic market once they incorporate in China. But progress has been slow due to limitations and local major banks dominance in the market.
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