PayPal to enter China through GoPay acquisition

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The People’s Bank of China has approved PayPal’s  acquisition of a 70% equity state in GoPay (Guofubao Information Technology Co. [GoPay], Ltd.), which will make PayPal the first foreign payment platform to provide online payment services in China. GoPay has licenses for online and mobile transactions, and mainly provides payment products for industries including e-commerce, cross-border commerce, aviation tourism and others.

According to a statement from Guofubao, PayPal acquired the controlling stake through the Shanghai-based subsidiary Yinbaobao Information Technology (Shanghai) Co., Ltd.

The companies did not disclose deal terms.

The news of PayPal’s entry into China comes at a time when there’s increased tension between the U.S. and China, with The White House reportedly now considering curbing some U.S. investments in China amid the trade dispute between the countries.

Though China’s payments market today is led by local players, including eWallet providers like AliPay and WeChat Pay on the mobile side, there’s still plenty of room for it to grow — which would benefit PayPal.

On the mobile payments side alone, the market is expected to grow 21.8%, from 2017 to $96.73 trillion in 2023, driven partly by increasing demand for e-commerce, a report from Frost & Sullivan found. The market has also seen an increase in cross-border transactions, particularly in sectors like e-commerce, travel and overseas education. These reached $6.66 trillion in 2016.

The report additionally said the total number of active mobile payment customers is expected to reach 956 million by 2023, up from 562 million in 2017.

Last year, China’s central bank said it would open up further to foreign payment companies.

U.S. firms in the financial services market have for a long time struggled to enter China. Notably, American Express became the first U.S. card network to gain permission to set up card-clearing services in China last November, and Mastercard this year said it would try to set up a joint venture with another local player to gain entry.

PayPal said the transaction is expected to close in Q4 2019 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

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