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Visa Says China May Open Yuan Payment Processing Market

Visa Inc. said China’s recent decision to let Citigroup Inc. issue credit cards may be the start of a broader market opening that will allow the world’s largest payments processor to expand in the country.

Visa will keep investing in its business of processing foreign-denominated payments in the world’s second-largest economy, Elizabeth Buse, group president responsible for most business outside the Americas, said in an interview with Bloomberg Television today. China UnionPay Data Co. has a monopoly on handling yuan payments.

Global payment volumes at Visa surpassed $1 trillion last year, with 30 percent from Asia, Buse said. Volume growth in China was more than 50 percent, she said. Citigroup last month became the first foreign bank allowed to issue credit cards in the world’s most populous nation.

“We hope that the license that has been granted to Citi is just the beginning of a broader opening of that market,” said Buse. The only thing that might “immediately” lead to a market opening is a U.S. complaint about the monopoly at the World Trade Organization, she said.

Acting on the U.S.’s criticism, the WTO is investigating China’s requirement that yuan-denominated payments be executed through China UnionPay Data.

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