American Express has taken another step towards entering the massive Chinese payments market after the country's central bank accepted the US firm's application to start a bank card clearing business.
The People's Bank of China confirmed the acceptance on its Wechat account. It now needs to give its final approval.
Amex had already secured approval, in November 2018, to clear card payments in China. The firm has set up a joint-venture with China's LianLian to build a network business that will enable charges on American Express branded cards to be cleared and settled domestically by the joint-venture.
Up until now, foreign card companies have had to partner with state-controlled monopoly UnionPay for access to the country’s payments network.
However, China has decided, following almost a decade of lobbying by US firms, to open up the $27 trillion market. Both Visa and Mastercard are trying to follow Amex's lead.