China requires banks to report overseas withdrawals and transactions worth over $203 from September

Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in a counting machine while a clerk counts them at a branch of a commercial bank in Beijing, China.
Chinese 100 yuan banknotes are seen in a counting machine while a clerk counts them at a branch of a commercial bank in Beijing, China.PHOTO: REUTERS

BEIJING - China's foreign exchange regulator said on Friday (June 2) it will start collecting information on the use of domestically-issued bank cards for overseas cash withdrawals and transactions to fight money laundering, reported Xinhua news agency.

From Sept 1, banks are required to report all cash withdrawals, as well as transactions worth more than 1,000 yuan (S$203), at brick-and-mortar and online stores outside China, according to the State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE).

"In line with the increasing need for global cooperation on anti-money laundering, anti-terrorism financing and addressing tax base erosion, statistics on cross-border bank card transactions need improved transparency and data quality," the regulator said.

Transactions made through non-bank payment institutions do not need to be reported, according to a SAFE circular.

The regulator said it will ensure the security of the card owners' information, which will be collected every day through an online management system that will go into use on Sept 1.

The SAFE will also share information of people with records of illicit overseas transactions and other illegal behaviour to prevent cross-border money laundering and other crime.

Bank cards have become the major tool of overseas payment for Chinese, with overseas transactions by domestic individual card owners exceeding US$120 billion (S$166 billion) in 2016, according to SAFE data.

China has already tightened controls over the use of bank cards in Hong Kong and abroad, reported South China Morning Post.

In March, China UnionPay barred mainland Chinese customers from using its transaction system to shop for property in Hong Kong. That came after Beijing in December last year halved the amount of cash that China UnionPay cardholders could withdraw from ATMs in Macau to 5,000 patacas (S$861).