Dive Brief:

  • A Mastercard joint venture called Mastercard NUCC Information Technology has received approval from Chinese government authorities to begin offering bankcard clearing in that country, the No. 2 U.S. card company said in a press release Monday.
  • The joint venture with NetsUnion Clearing, which is China’s national online transactions processor, received approval from the People’s Bank of China and the National Administration of Financial Regulation, according to the release.
  • “Mastercard cardholders in China will soon enjoy seamless payment experiences at home and abroad,” the Purchase, New York-based card company said in making the announcement, without providing a date for when those services will begin.

Dive Insight:

The announcement from Mastercard follows President Joe Biden’s meeting with the Chinese leader Xi Jinping last week in San Francisco. After the meeting, the White House issued a Nov. 15 statement saying the two countries would follow up “in key areas,” including related to financial issues. 

Mastercard has been waiting on final approval for its joint venture’s activities since February 2020 when it received initial approval to set up bankcard payments processing for domestic transactions in China. In the interim, the joint venture set up the infrastructure and rules for meeting local regulatory requirements, the company said in the release. 

The company said it already “has tens of millions of bank cards and millions of acceptance points across the country,” that help connect China commerce and cross-border payments to the international economic ecosystem.

A Mastercard spokesperson didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment on when the joint venture might start processing payments in China.

The approvals mean that Mastercard can also issue cards tied to China’s currency, the yuan, according to the Wall Street Journal report Monday. 

Mastercard’s deeper participation in the Chinese market will benefit the country, its consumers and its businesses, while simultaneously boosting our company’s mission of connecting and powering an inclusive digital economy that benefits everyone,” Mastercard CEO Michael Miebach said in the release.

The chairman of the board of the joint venture, Ling Hai, made clear that the approval is aimed at benefiting Chinese consumers and businesses. “As we ramp up our domestic operations, we look forward to working with customers and partners in China to harness technologies and innovations in a way that empowers local businesses and delivers the best payments experiences to people every day,” said Hai, who is also co-president of international markets at Mastercard.

In June, Mastercard began allowing its cardholders to link their accounts to the Chinese digital wallet Alipay in an effort to make electronic payments easier for international consumers traveling in China.

An American Express joint venture received similar approvals from the Chinese authorities in June 2020 and it has been seeking to expand its business in that country.


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