The Monetary Authority of Macao has set a limit of MOP5,000 (US$626) or HKD5,000 per transaction for withdrawals in the city’s ATMs using bank cards issued by mainland China banks. The new limit per transaction is in effect from Friday (December 9), the authority said in a statement on Friday.
The Monetary Authority however clarified that the daily withdrawal limit with the use of such cards outside mainland China remains at CNY10,000 (US$1,449), or at an annual withdrawal limit of CNY100,000. This limit, in effect since January this year, is in compliance with the guidelines announced by China’s State Administration of Foreign Exchange in September 2015, said Friday’s statement.
The new limit per transaction for cards issued by Chinese banks “is in order to further strengthen the measures to regulate mainland bank card cash withdrawals,” said the Monetary Authority.
“The measure is not expected to have any impact on day-to-day ATM cash withdrawal through ATM by Macau residents, neither normal overseas cash withdrawal by Mainland bank card holders will be affected,” it added.
The statement from the Monetary Authority of Macao was issued following a report by the South China Morning Post newspaper saying that the Macau government was planning to cut in half the amount of cash China UnionPay bank cardholders can withdraw from ATM machines in the city.
Brokerage Sanford C. Bernstein Ltd said in a note on Friday that some Macau banks already have “per transaction limits that are already below MOP5,000″. “That really means that now one would need to use an ATM card two times at MOP5,000 each time rather than execute a single MOP10,000 transaction,” said analysts Vitaly Umansky, Zhen Gong and Yang Xie.
“The effect of this new change would have no material impact on Macau GGR [gross gaming revenue],” they added.
China UnionPay – via UnionPay International – has also clarified that it has not changed its policy on overseas withdrawal limits. UnionPay International said that the daily limit for withdrawals using mainland-issued cards overseas would remain at CNY10,000, reported Reuters.
In a note issued before the Monetary Authority’s announcement, JP Morgan Securities (Asia Pacific) Ltd had said in a note that “there would be virtually no impact on gaming demand/fundamentals, and limited overhang on sentiment/stocks”, assuming the daily withdrawal limit remains unchanged.
Investment research firm Morningstar Inc has also stated that the new limit per transaction is “immaterial” for Macau gaming business.
“In our view, the government’s cut of the withdrawal limit to MOP5,000 from MOP10,000 (to US$626 from US$1,252) per transaction in Macau … will have insignificant impact as players can withdraw cash multiple times per day to skirt the new rule,” Morningstar analyst Chelsey Tam wrote in a Friday memo.
“High-end players most commonly pay commissions to pawnshops to withdraw cash in Macau, or they use underground banks to wire money; therefore, they do not necessarily have to rely on the UnionPay ATM withdrawal to get cash in Macau,” Ms Tam noted. The analyst however added that the risks of more capital outflow control measures by China should not be ignored and will potentially “prevent a robust gaming revenue recovery north of mid- single-digit growth” next year.
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Vitaly Umansky, Eunice Lee and Kelsey Zhu
Sanford Bernstein analysts