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UnionPay forex controls tightened

Updated: Oct 3,2015 10:38 AM     Xinhua

New rules to be introduced to limit amount that can be withdrawn overseas via cards

China will tighten management of cross-border cash withdrawals by UnionPay bank card holders to prevent money laundering. Cardholders are advised not to withdraw large amounts of cash overseas, said the country’s foreign exchange regulator, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange, at a news briefing.

In addition to the current daily restriction of 10,000 yuan ($1,573), each UnionPay card will have an annual withdrawal limit of 100,000 yuan or its equivalent in other currencies starting Jan 1, SAFE said. From Oct 1 to the end of the year, each card may be used to withdraw no more than 50,000 yuan.

Anyone who violates the restrictions will be added to a watch list and banned from withdrawing cash overseas. Holders of Chinese-issued Visa and MasterCards will also be subject to daily and annual limits on overseas withdrawals.

Since 2008, SAFE has rolled out policies to encourage cross-border use of bank cards, including UnionPay cards.

However, based on recent monitoring results, some overseas UnionPay cardholders have frequently withdrawn abnormally large amounts of cash, which foreign financial regulatory authorities have warned against, the spokesperson said.

UnionPay cardholders are advised to swipe cards to pay their bills, SAFE said, adding that the cards are now accepted in more than 150 countries and regions, especially in shopping malls, hotels, tourist attractions, supermarkets and restaurants.

The number of Chinese traveling overseas is expected to surge during the week-long National Day holiday.

Chinese tourists spent large amounts overseas during the May Day holiday from May 1 to May 3, with the number of UnionPay transactions overseas jumping 73 percent year-on-year. The seven-day Spring Festival holiday from Feb 18 to Feb 24 saw the number of overseas UnionPay transactions rise by nearly 50 percent year-on-year, official data showed.

China has been the world’s largest outbound tourist market since 2012, according to the World Tourism Organization.

The number of Chinese who traveled overseas last year rose by 19.5 percent year-on-year to 109 million, according to official data.