Amex to offer yuan travel cheques
American Express said yesterday that next month it would offer the world's first yuan-denominated travellers' cheque for people visiting China.
Starting on May 10, travellers to the mainland from Canada, India, Japan, South Korea, Malaysia, Singapore, Britain and the United States would be able to buy the cheques in their home market, it said.
Travellers will be able to cash the cheques at about 2,000 branches of the Bank of China and at 1,600 partner hotels on the mainland.
Alpesh Chokshi, the president of Global Prepaid at American Express, said the partnership with the bank was another milestone in its 'long-term commitment to China'.
The country is expected to become the world's No 1 travel destination by 2015, according to the World Tourism Organisation. It ranked fourth last year, after France, the US and Spain. Last year, China received 126 million inbound travellers, who spent a total of US$39.7 billion in the country.
The Shanghai World Expo this year is expected to attract 3.5 million overseas visitors during the May-October period, according to the China National Tourism Administration.
'China is an important growth market,' Chokshi said. 'The timing is very exciting for providing clients with a safe, secure way to bring currency, which is the promise of this product.'
In the past two years, American Express had more than tripled the size of its China team and doubled its marketing investment, indicating its confidence in the market, he said.
Foreign firms including American Express, Visa and MasterCard have been given limited access to the US$723 billion payment-processing market in the country. They are not allowed to issue their own bank cards denominated in yuan except for 'co-branded' cards with local banks.