JCB International, a subsidiary of Japanese payments firm JCB, has entered into an agreement with Europay Austria to expand JCB's acceptance network in central and eastern Europe.

In mid-2007, Europay Austria will phase in acquiring JCB merchants and processing sales transactions, and will complete opening its network of 94,000 merchants in Austria by the end of December 2007. The agreement also includes Europay Austria’s merchant network of central and eastern Europe.

The decision to expand in this region comes in response to the increase in Japanese tourist visits to Europe. According to national tourism offices, more than 270,000 Japanese travelers visited Austria in 2005, up 8.6% from the previous year, more than 150,000 Japanese travelers to the Czech Republic, up 26.5%, and more than 98,000 to the city of Budapest in Hungary, up 28.8%.

As the numbers of travelers from abroad is expanding and their purposes and needs for traveling are changing, I believe that the licensee arrangement with Europay Austria, which has a solid merchant and cardmember base here, will greatly increase our cardmembers’ level of convenience in the region, commented Thomas Heigl, general manager of JCB International (Austria) GmbH.