Sunday 16 December 2018

China to licence foreign firms in its 'saturated' €22trn payments market

A Chinese investor monitors stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing (AP)
A Chinese investor monitors stock prices at a brokerage house in Beijing (AP)

Jun Luo

China will permit foreign companies to access its $27trn (€22trn) payments market, further opening up the world's second-largest economy.

Foreign players can start applying for payment licences and will be treated the same as local firms, the People's Bank of China has said.

Applicants must set up local units, establish payment infrastructure - including disaster recovery systems -- and store client information domestically, it said.

Premier Li Keqiang on Tuesday promised to protect the intellectual property of foreigners investing in its economy, as China seeks to avoid a trade war with the US. Any entrants to the Chinese market - apart from meeting stiff local regulations - will also have to compete with the more than 260 firms with payment licences including Ant Financial Services Group's Alipay and Tencent Holdings's WeChat Pay.

"The domestic market is quite saturated with very strong domestic players, and it is relatively hard for foreign companies to get a piece of the pie," said ING Groep NV economist Iris Pang. "But there is a chance for them to compete in the cross-border payment market."

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