Logos of China UnionPay are seen on bank cards. Photo: Reuters/Barry Huang
Logos of China UnionPay are seen on bank cards. Photo: Reuters/Barry Huang

Banks in China have been ordered to collect information on people’s overseas transactions over 1,000 yuan (US$146.7) using domestic cards from September 1 this year.

Cash withdrawals or a single purchase amount of more than 1,000 yuan (US$146.7) that are conducted offshore must be reported, said the State Administration of Foreign Exchange on its website on Friday.

All types of bank cards issued by domestic institutions, including, but not limited to, debit cards and credit cards, fall under the new regulation. Card issuers should collect data on eligible transactions within 24 hours and submit a report to the foreign exchange regulator by noon every day.

Some comments on Weibo, the Chinese equivalent of Twitter, complain about the regulation, worrying that they will end up on a watch list just because they may have had a decent meal outside of China.

While some people speculate that the regulator may vet a person’s consumption details to prevent assets or cash being transferred since there is no limit on the amount of overseas purchases using Chinese credit cards.

At the moment, individuals can make purchases of no more than US$50,000 per year, but they can skirt this rule by using credit cards in another currency and then pay off the outstanding debt when they return home. Because the purchase was made in a foreign currency it is not counted toward the US$50,000 limit.