Visa Inc has become the first overseas card payment company to apply for a bank-card clearing operation in China, reflecting growing challengers to domestic behemoth China UnionPay after deregulation, the South China Morning Post reports. Mainland China’s growing bank card market has attracted various overseas players, which had been able to cooperate with banks to issue dual currency cards in China. But they have been long barred from setting up payment clearing operations in the country. The State Council, China’s cabinet, announced the opening-up of the card payments clearing sector to foreign players in 2015. A year later the central bank and the banking regulator, China Banking Regulatory Commission, jointly issued rules, noting that the registered capital of a clearing house must be at least 1 billion yuan (US$148.5 million). The opening of the bank-card clearing sector is also significant for Visa’s main traditional global rival Mastercard.