International

Amex Cleared To Operate In China

The central bank in China said it has accepted an American Express application to start working in the country, according to a report by Reuters.

The news was released in a social media post by the official People’s Bank of China (PBOC) account on Wednesday (Jan. 8). The post did not say when Amex would start operations in the country.

In November of 2018, Amex got approval to clear card payments by the PBOC, making it the first company of its kind to get access to what will become the largest card network this year. Final approval from the PBOC is still required in order for Amex to begin operating there.

China aims to open up the market to international companies, as many foreign firms have been lobbying to enter the country for about 10 years.

Amex has teamed up with the Lianlian Group in order to settle and process payments in yuan in China. The two have partnered since 2012, when Amex licensed its Serve system to Lianlian so it could enable mobile phone users to top up minutes, pay bills and purchase other goods and services, according to a press release from American Express.

As the largest non-banking, third-party payment service in China, Lianlian aims to create a global network and to increase acceptance of the renminbi, the Chinese currency, according to the company. Lianlian counts PayPal and Apple among its strategic partners. Barriers to American companies operating in China are so high that Chinese institutions dominate in many areas, especially finance.

At the time of the approval in November, an official in Beijing said the deal was a “goodwill gesture.” The PBOC said the deal was “an important step” in the direction of liberalizing the clearing industry in the country.

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