Card companies, including MasterCard and Visa, have approached the US government about filing a WTO trade complaint against China for cutting them out of the country's fast-growing, $723 billion, payment processing market, according to Bloomberg.
China agreed to allow full access to "all payment and money-transmission services, including credit, charge and debit cards" by December 2006 when it joined the World Trade Organisation in 2001.
However, foreign firms, such as MasterCard, Visa, Discover, American Express and First Data are still not allowed to issue their own cards denominated in its currency, build networks, or process interbank point-of-sale transactions, instead having to co-brand.
With card companies raising their concerns, Bloomberg says US Trade Representative Ron Kirk is now conducting due diligence on the matter but has not made a final decision on filing a WTO complaint.
Kirk, who is in Brussels meeting EU Trade Commissioner Karel de Gucht, told reporters the government's preferred approach is negotiation.
Research released last year by RBS, Capgemini and Efma found that China is fast catching up with the US and Europe as a growth market for non-cash transactions, accounting for nine per cent of global payments.
The country has also just overtaken Japan to become the world's second biggest market for ATMs, with over 200,000 machines scattered around the country.
China Curbs Prompt Credit-Card Dispute, Kirk Says - Bloomberg