U.S. card service provider American Express is preparing to apply for a license to operate in China, a senior executive of the company said.
China had announced in 2015 that it was going to open up the bank card payment clearing market, and details for applying for a license to operate were released in June this year.
"We have been actively preparing for submitting a license application to operate in China for two years, and we are glad to see that detailed regulations and terms have been released this June," said Kenneth Lee, managing director of American Express China.
"Now we are in the stage of comparing what we have to what are required in the June details," Lee said.
American Express is "definitely" seeking to operate in China, one of the most important markets for the card network, he said.
The card network is also exploring opportunities with Chinese mobile payment service providers for future collaborations.
"Payment clearing networks are usually considered to compete with third-party payments institutions. But it is not a zero-sum game. We see increasing use of mobile payments while we see fast growth of credit card payments in China. Indeed we compete in some fields but we also believe there are spaces we can collaborate," Lee said.
For example, in terms of service networks for cardholders globally, American Express has established, and is still growing, expertise in facilitating Chinese cardholders to get easy and quick access to assistance.
Cards play a significant role in the payment industry of China, a market with more than 6 billion cards in circulation in 2016, according to data of the China Banking Regulatory Commission.
Cards in circulation in the country are expected to rise to 9 billion by 2020, according to data by GlobalData Plc, a market information provider.
More bank cards targeting wealthy residents in China have been launched in the past few years as personal wealth in the country continues to rise.
"We aim to cater to elite customers who have demanding lifestyles by providing global efficiency, convenience and excellence," said Zeng Kuanyang, president of the Ping An Bank Credit Card Center, on the launch of the Ping An Bank American Express Plantinum Card in Shanghai on Thursday.
"These cards targeting premium users also fit well with the increasing demand for tailor-made concierge, travel and insurance services of Chinese business travelers," he said.