China Forced to Open Up to Foreign Credit Cards

Expat Globe

Expats living in China will be rejoicing today as the WTO delivers a landmark ruling that will lead to foreign credit cards finally being accepted in mainland China.

The World Trade Organisation (WTO) has ruled that China’s payment card scheme UnionPay has been operating an illegal monopoly.

UnionPay is the world’s biggest payment card scheme due in no small part to its state backing. Any expat (or indeed anyone at all) wishing to make payment by card is forced to use UnionPay.

Foreign card companies are allowed to operate in China but must carry the UnionPay logo and use the UnionPay network often with far higher fees.

As most expats are forbidden from using domestic Chinese payment cards expats must turn to foreign cards with all the inconvenience that brings.

UnionPay was ruled to have been conducting unfair trading practises by the World Trade Organisation and the ruling could open up the massive and lucrative Chinese market to industry heavyweights such as Visa, Mastercard and American Express.

Meanwhile UnionPay is looking to move beyond China’s borders and is developing a big push to get global retailers to start accepting UnionPay payment cards. British retailing giant Selfridges was one of the first stores to sign up to the scheme.