Amex sticker in Chicago, Illinois on January 24. Photo: Scott Olson/Getty Images

American Express gained greater access to China's spenders on Saturday after the People's Bank of China cleared the company to operate its card-clearing network in the mainland.

Our thought bubble, via Axios' Felix Salmon: Until now it has been hard for Chinese nationals to obtain a card that is accepted by a broad range of international merchants, and it has been almost impossible for non-Chinese nationals to obtain a card (or app) that is accepted by a broad range of Chinese merchants.

  • It remains to be seen whether Amex will gain any traction in China, but this news has the potential to bridge two systems that until now have been almost entirely separate.

The big picture: American Express said in a Saturday press release that it is the first foreign payment network to be allowed to process domestic payments in yuan in China.

  • Amex said it expects to begin processing transactions through Express Company, made in partnership with a Chinese fintech services company, later this year.

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