UnionPay holds all the cards

China Daily (Latin America Weekly) - - 13 Business - XIN­HUA

China UnionPay, a Chi­nese bank card or­ga­ni­za­tion, is ramp­ing up ef­forts to ex­pand its busi­ness in over­seas mar­kets to sup­port the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive or BRI, in ad­di­tion to fa­cil­i­tat­ing fast grow­ing per­son­nel ex­changes be­tween China and the rest of the world.

The num­ber of UnionPay cards is­sued out­side the Chi­nese main­land ex­ceeded 100 mil­lion as of Oct 18. The vol­ume of trans­ac­tions via these cards grew more than 40 per­cent dur­ing the first three quar­ters of this year, said UnionPay In­ter­na­tional.

By Oct 18, these cards were is­sued in 48 coun­tries and re­gions in all. Among them, BRI economies are ma­jor mar­kets: more than 35 mil­lion cards were is­sued along the route, up 20 times from the pre-BRI level in 2013.

Among these mar­kets, all of the 10 mem­ber states of the As­so­ci­a­tion of South­east Asian Na­tions and six Cen­tral Asian coun­tries have a pres­ence of UnionPay cards.

Be­sides, UnionPay is the No 1 card brand in terms of the num­ber of cards is­sued in Laos, Mon­go­lia and Myan­mar.

“For UnionPay, the coun­tries and re­gions in­volved in the Belt and Road Ini­tia­tive are a pri­or­ity. They are not only closely tied with China in many as­pects but also are in need of in­fra­struc­ture re­lat­ing to trans­fer pay­ments and dig­i­tal pay­ments,” said Ge Huay­ong, chair­man of China UnionPay, at the 10th Lu­ji­azui Fo­rum 2018 in June.

Apart from pro­mot­ing both greater ac­cep­tance and larger is­suance of UnionPay cards in these coun­tries, the bank card or­ga­ni­za­tion has also been push­ing ahead with the glob­al­iza­tion of China’s fi­nan­cial tech­nol­ogy stan­dards and help­ing those coun­tries in need of tran­sit net­works for pay­ments, such as Laos and Thai­land, to build the net­works lo­cally, ac­cord­ing to Ge.

“UnionPay has great po­ten­tial for devel­op­ment in the coun­tries and re­gions in­volved in the BRI. We are do­ing re­search on the lo­cal mar­ket de­mand and try­ing to im­prove our ca­pa­bil­i­ties in of­fer­ing com­pre­hen­sive pay­ment ser­vices,” he said.

Zhao Yao, a re­search fel­low of the Re­search Cen­ter of Pay­ment and Set­tle­ment, which is part of the In­sti­tute of Fi­nance and Bank­ing at the Chi­nese Academy of So­cial Sciences, said UnionPay has in­vested heav­ily in go­ing global and made re­mark­able progress in this area of busi­ness in re­cent years.

Zhao said: “Be­fore the BRI was pro­posed, UnionPay In­ter­na­tional (a sub­sidiary of China UnionPay fo­cused on the growth of its global busi­ness) was mainly sup­port­ing Chi­nese trav­el­ers by cre­at­ing an en­vi­ron­ment for UnionPay cards to be more widely ac­cepted over­seas.

“Af­ter that, it has of­fered a lot of as­sis­tance to some of the Belt and Road economies in build­ing their bank card clear­ing in­fra­struc­ture, in ad­di­tion to im­prov­ing the ac­cep­tance and is­suance of UnionPay cards.”

UnionPay is ex­pand­ing faster as WeChat Pay and Ali­pay, lead­ing third-party on­line pay­ment ser­vice providers, have taken a dom­i­nant col­lec­tive share of China’s mo­bile pay­ment mar­ket.

“UnionPay will keep strength­en­ing its busi­ness ex­pan­sion over­seas due to height­ened competition in the do­mes­tic mar­ket,” Zhao said.

As it speeds up the lo­cal­iza­tion of its busi­ness over­seas, UnionPay cards have be­come a ma­jor pay­ment op­tion for daily con­sump­tion and cross-bor­der travel of cus­tomers in many coun­tries and re­gions.

In mar­kets like Hong Kong, Ma­cao, South Korea, Pak­istan, South­east Asia and Cen­tral Asia, over 90 per­cent of the trans­ac­tions made with lo­cally is­sued UnionPay cards hap­pen lo­cally in terms of vol­ume, ac­cord­ing to UnionPay In­ter­na­tional.

To im­prove the pay­ment ex­pe­ri­ence of card­hold­ers out­side the Chi­nese main­land, UnionPay has en­riched its over­seas card port­fo­lio in re­cent years and has launched premium card prod­ucts, such as themed cards and com­mer­cial cards, to meet the di­verse needs of over­seas cus­tomers.

It con­tin­ues to im­prove its ben­e­fits for over­seas card­hold­ers, pro­vid­ing priv­i­leges in­clud­ing mer­chant dis­counts, a tax re­fund ser­vice, and a VIP ser­vice for Chi­nese visa ap­pli­ca­tion.

Over­seas-is­sued UnionPay cards are equipped with more and more in­no­va­tive func­tions, of­fer­ing en­hanced pay­ment ex­pe­ri­ence to card­hold­ers abroad.

For ex­am­ple, in Hong Kong, Ma­cao and South Korea, UnionPay card­hold­ers can en­joy the UnionPay mo­bile Quick­Pass ser­vice which en­ables them to pay by tap­ping their mo­bile phones.

In Sin­ga­pore, Thai­land and Viet­nam, UnionPay card­hold­ers can bind the lo­cally- is­sued UnionPay cards to lo­cal mo­bile pay­ment ap­pli­ca­tions to pay by scan­ning UnionPay QR codes at mer­chants.

Mean­while, the bank card or­ga­ni­za­tion is car­ry­ing out dig­i­tal card is­suance col­lab­o­ra­tion with over­seas in­sti­tu­tions based on e-wal­let prod­ucts.

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