China UnionPay Data Services Co. Ltd., the joint venture between Total System Services Inc. and the payment network China UnionPay, has agreed to process card transactions for Bank of East Asia.

TSYS announced the agreement last week and said Bank of East Asia was the first foreign bank to launch a credit card program in China.

Bank of East Asia, which has more than $50 billion of assets, is considered a foreign bank in mainland China, because it is based in Hong Kong.

"Partnering with the first foreign credit card issuer in China is a significant milestone in Cup Data's development," David E. Duncan, TSYS' group executive for China and Southeast Asia, said in a press release Thursday.

TSYS owns 44.5% of Cup Data, which had 61 processing clients as of Dec. 31.