U.S. digital money transfer platform PayPal Holdings Inc (PYPL.O) has obtained Beijing’s approval to buy a controlling stake in a domestic payments firm, which would make PayPal the first foreign firm to enter China’s payment services market. 

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Gopay Information Technology, PayPal’s acquisition target, has received approval from China’s central bank to sell a 70% stake to PayPal, both companies said on Monday. Gopay has licenses for mobile, online and cross-border yuan payment services, the Chinese company said in its statement. 

The terms of the deal, which is expected to close by the end of 2019, have not been disclosed, a PayPal spokesperson said. GoPay is a small Chinese payments provider that functions similarly to PayPal — it allows merchants to accept non-credit card payments straight from their websites. American payment and credit card companies have for years been trying to break into the world’s second largest economy, where the growing middle class means a growing market of consumers seeking lending, credit card and money transfer services.

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“We look forward to partnering with China’s financial institutions and technology platforms, providing a more comprehensive set of payment solutions to businesses and consumers, both in China and globally,”

Dan Schulman, PayPal CEO

In recent years, the Chinese government has opened the door to foreign firms to start applying for licenses to launch payments networks in the country, but the approval process has been slow-going. By taking on majority ownership of GoPay, PayPal acquired access to the Chinese firm’s license to provide online payment services. 

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