BEIJING--American Express Co. received approval from China's central bank to set up a joint venture to offer bank-card clearing services in the country, where the business is dominated by a state-owned company.
The U.S. card network is the first foreign card network to receive permission to offer clearing services in China, after a long-time pledge by Beijing to further open up its financial markets.
The Wall Street Journal reported in April that China's central bank had informed the New York-based card issuer that it would "formally accept" its application to clear and settle domestic bank-card transactions. AmEx has applied to establish a joint venture with Chinese mobile-payment provider Lianlian Group.
The People's Bank of China said in a statement on its website Friday that the JV will be given one year to prepare and can apply to begin operations after that. The central bank also said it would allow more foreign service providers to enter China's bank-card clearing business in an orderly manner, but didn't provide a time frame.
Currently, China's bank-card clearing business is dominated by state-run Unionpay Co.
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