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Friday, October 2, 2015, 16:07

China to tighten controls on overseas cash withdrawals

By Xinhua

China to tighten controls on overseas cash withdrawals
A logo of UnionPay is pictured on its headquarters building in Shanghai, May 6, 2014. (Photo/IC)

BEIJING - 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 forex regulator, the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE), at a press conference.

On top of the current daily restriction of 10,000 yuan (US$1,570), each UnionPay card will have an annual withdrawal limit of 100,000 yuan or its equivalent in other currencies starting Jan 1, 2016, SAFE said.

From Oct 1 to the end of 2015, each card may be used to withdraw no more than 50,000 yuan, SAFE said.

Anyone who violates the restrictions will be added to a watch list and banned from withdrawing any more cash overseas.

Chinese-issued Visa and MasterCard holders will also be limited in daily and annual overseas cash withdrawals, SAFE said.

SAFE has rolled out favorable policies since 2003 to encourage cross-border use of bank cards, including UnionPay cards, said a spokesperson with SAFE.

But based on recent monitoring results, some overseas UnionPay cardholders have frequently been withdrawing cash in abnormally large amounts, which foreign financial regulatory authorities have warned against, said the spokesperson.

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

The number of Chinese traveling overseas is expected to surge during the week-long National Day holiday from Oct 1 to 7.

Chinese tourists spent big abroad during the May Day holiday from May 1 to 3, with the number of UnionPay overseas transactions jumping 73 percent year on year. The seven-day Spring Festival holiday from Feb 18 to 24 also saw the number of overseas UnionPay transactions rise 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. According to official data, the number of Chinese traveling abroad in 2014 increased by 19.5 percent year on year to 109 million, nearly 13 times the level in 1998.

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