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China blocks MasterCard processing Renminbi transactions

China’s central bank has ordered online payment platform EPayLinks to stop issuing renminbi-settled credit cards in partnership with MasterCard.

“No payment institution is allowed to cooperate with foreign card companies in developing cross-border payment businesses involving renminbi bank accounts or renminbi payment accounts,” says the ruling by People’s Bank of China.

“Foreign currencies must be used when clearing and settling domestic acquisitions made by people holding foreign credit cards.” Transactions at Chinese automated machines and merchants must be processed via the payments system of UnionPay, the Chinese rival to MasterCard and Visa.

China normally requires MasterCard and Visa to pay UnionPay a fee on transactions made using their cards in China. EPayLinks says it is doing business through a Hong Kong subsidiary rather than cooperating directly with MasterCard.

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