Chinese tourists will be allowed to use credit cards and debit cards issued by China UnionPay Co (中國銀聯), China’s only credit card network, from late next month at the earliest, the Financial Supervisory Commission said yesterday, predicting that the move would spur spending.
China UnionPay has more than 1.8 billion cards in circulation, which can be used in 61 countries in the world, the commission said in a statement.
“Once the National Credit Card Center of the Republic of China completes its application for regulatory approval, the policy will take effect immediately,” said Hsiao Chang-jui (蕭長瑞), deputy director-general of the commission’s banking bureau.
Chinese will be able to use their cards at the center’s 72,173 contracted merchant stores countrywide, which covers most tourist attractions, Hsiao said.
The financial regulator authorized the center to be the only payment clearance unit handling China UnionPay cards.
The nation’s 23 card issuers can apply to accept UnionPay cards at their points-of-sales, but will be required to clear the credit card payments with the center. The center will collect the payments from China UnionPay.
Chinese will not be able to use UnionPay debit cards to withdraw cash from automatic teller machines (ATM), although this could change later, Hsiao said.
Justin Lee (李懿哲), an executive at Citibank Taiwan and a director of the credit-card committee at the Bankers Association of the Republic of China (銀行公會), welcomed the move.
“It offers convenience for visiting Chinese cardholders and business opportunities for local card issuers,” he said by telephone.
Card issuers will earn an estimated NT$2 billion (US$60.7 million) per year in fees on Chinese payments, the Chinese-language Economic Daily News reported yesterday, citing Charles Lo (羅聯福), vice chairman of Chinatrust Financial Holding Co (中信金控), which owns the nation’s largest credit-card issuer, Chinatrust Commercial Bank (中國信託商銀).
But Hsiao said this was not clear as there had been no decision on what percentage card issuers would be allowed to charge on card payments. Taiwanese issuers charge their merchants up to 3 percent of the payment sum, while China UnionPay charges 0.4 percent, he said.