Jewellery shops and pawnshops that operate inside the precincts of Macau casinos will have to remove their China UnionPay card terminals by July 1. The Monetary Authority of Macau (AMCM) gave the instructions in a letter sent to the city’s financial institutions on May 14, Portuguese news agency Lusa reported.
Media reports last month had mentioned the July 1 deadline, although the cut-off date had not been officially confirmed. The letter seen by Lusa followed a high level meeting that took place on May 9, the agency said.
In mid-May, Macau’s Secretary for Economy and Finance Francis Tam Pak Yuen said the government had not set a deadline to restrict the use of UnionPay swipe card devices inside casinos.
In the letter, the financial regulator said that cash withdrawals from jewellery shops inside casinos would no longer be allowed starting on Tuesday next week. It said such operations would be considered “high risk” by China UnionPay Co Ltd, according to Lusa. The agency also quotes AMCM as saying it will take effective measures as necessary to “promote the sustainable development” of UnionPay transactions.
The AMCM urged the city’s banks to strengthen their oversight over UnionPay transactions. Macau authorities and the mainland company are reportedly cracking down on the use of irregular transactions done in Macau to circumvent mainland China’s tight cross-border money controls.
Earlier this year several merchants were arrested for allegedly using unregistered, hand held UnionPay card swipe devices in Macau in order to record the transactions as taking place on the mainland.
The value of transactions using these unregistered terminals in Macau amounted to MOP180 million (US$22.5 million) between January and mid-May, according to the Macau police. China UnionPay has reportedly missed out on MOP360,000 in transaction fees.
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Lionel Leong Vai Tac
Macau Secretary for Economy and Finance