UnionPay expands beyond China

Updated: 2014-09-24 15:24

By Wu Yiyao in Shanghai(China Daily USA)

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Tourists from China who travel to various destinations in Asia may soon find a familiar sign welcoming them at busy airports and sprawling stores. The logo of UnionPay, the Chinese payment solutions provider, is now prominently visible at the round-the-clock fast fashion retailers of Dongdaemun in Seoul and even in the duty-free stores at the sprawling Changi Airport in Singapore.

With a swipe of the UnionPay card, travelers can pay taxi fares, shop at the VIP lounges in shopping malls, or even dine on Bak Kut The - a famous Malay dish - at nameless fishcake stalls.

Sam Zhao, senior manager of business development with Valiram Group at Resorts World Sentosa in Singapore, says UnionPay cardholders are shopping so generously that no merchant can resist acceptance of the card.

"We have a wide range of luxury brands here, and UnionPay card holders can enjoy exclusive privileges and discounts," said Zhao.

Nix Tang, senior marketing manager of Sentosa Leisure Management Pte Ltd, said discounts may vary from 5 percent to up to 15 percent, and the privileges range from using VIP rooms to free limousine transportation to shopping destinations.

Most of the merchants are eyeing the booming purchasing power of Chinese outbound travelers, among which more than 90 percent use UnionPay cards.

According to the California-based Nilson Report, UnionPay already enjoys an almost 100 percent recognition in China's domestic market.

Outside of China, UnionPay International has been trying to create new users by cooperating with local banks, payment networks and merchants.

"Promotions for UnionPay cards are everywhere, and you cannot just ignore it. I applied for a card from a local bank and became a UnionPay card holder this August, and I have saved some $100 by using the card," said Justin Wong, a 27-year-old museum assistant in Singapore.

Also according to Nilson Report, UnionPay had the world's third-largest market share of credit and debit transactions (7.7 percent) in 2013, after the US-based Visa Inc (60.5 percent) and MasterCard Inc (26.9 percent).

Compared with other players who entered the market earlier, UnionPay International's development has been rather fast, given the fact that the number of cards it issued outside the Chinese mainland reached more than 25 million in just seven years.

China UnionPay will become a service-oriented open platform that innovates hand in hand with partners, Shi Wenchao, the chief executive of China UnionPay, said in a recent interview.

The goal means that UnionPay will introduce more applications, and serve as a gateway to retailers with online shopping platforms, and may jointly offer applications with developers of smart devices, such as "mobile payment" and "phone pockets".


 UnionPay expands beyond China

A logo of UnionPay in Seoul, South Korea. The logo is now prominently visible at the round-the-clock fast-fashion retailers of Dongdaemun in Seoul and even in the duty-free stores at the sprawling Changi Airport in Singapore. Xinhua

(China Daily USA 09/24/2014 page16)