The Japanese credit card company JCB has begun operations in São Paulo, Brazil, under the name of JCB International do Brasil Representacão Comercial Ltda.

Founded in March, the new company is the first JCB International subsidiary in South America. Its goal is to expand JCB card issuing and merchant-acquiring activities with partners throughout 12 countries in the continent, JCB said in a press release.

JCB began building a presence in South America in 1985, when it started a JCB merchant-acquiring partnership with Bradesco Turismo in Brazil. In 1997 Cielo (formerly VisaNet Brazil) and JCB International signed a merchant-acquiring agreement with more than 1 million merchants in Brazil that now accept JCB cards.

Links between Brazil and Japan go back 104 years to 1908, when the Kasado Maru brought the first wave of immigrants from Japan. There are more than 1.5 million Brazilians of Japanese ancestry, the largest overseas Japanese community in the world, accordign to the release.

In Argentina and Uruguay, JCB International entered into a merchant-acquiring agreement with First Data Argentina (formerly Argencard) in 1988, and JCB cards are accepted at most of credit card accepting merchants there. In Peru, VisaNet Peru has been JCB's acquiring partner since 2003, JCB says.