China’s UnionPay overseas-issued cards grows 40% YoY

UnionPay International, a subsidiary of China UnionPay focused on the growth and support of UnionPay’s global business is accelerating its localization overseas by enlarging card-issuing scale abroad, and by supporting overseas cardholders’ card-using in the local market, China and other countries and regions. Latest data show that, by this June, the transaction volume of overseas-issued UnionPay cards has grown by about 40% year-on-year, well above that of domestically-issued UnionPay cards in overseas markets.

The transaction volume of overseas-issued UnionPay cards takes up about 50% of UnionPay’s international business. Established in March 2002, UnionPay is a bankcard association established under the approval of the State Council and the People’s Bank of China.


China announced last June that it would open up the market for foreign payment networks but is still waiting to produce final regulations.

Back in February 2016, China UnionPay and Visa Inc signed a memorandum of understanding to collaborate on payments security. The MoU came as Visa awaits regulations that would give it direct access to the Chinese market for clearing bank card transactions. The market was valued at $6.84 trillion in 2014.

Around 58 million UnionPay cards have been issued in 40 countries and regions overseas. This year, more markets issued UnionPay cards: Lebanon, Jordan and Qatar for the first time; US issued its first UnionPay credit card, and DBS in Singapore issued its first UnionPay card. UnionPay International also issued Thailand’s first local-brand debit card with Bangkok Bank. Countries along the “Belt and Road” including Russia, Kazakhstan and Uzbekistan also issued UnionPay products extensively.

“We not only support the Chinese people’s ‘going abroad’, but also offer secure and convenient service to overseas customers.” Cai Jianbo, CEO of UnionPay International said, “We have enabled overseas merchants and ATMs to accept UnionPay cards, promoted local mainstream banks to issue UnionPay cards extensively, offered tailored privileges as well as innovative products and services to meet overseas customers’ diversified demands.”

UnionPay card is crucial in improving inbound tourists’ payment experiences. This year, the transaction volume of Singapore-issued UnionPay cards in mainland China grew by about 6 times, and that of UnionPay cards issued in Australia, Indonesia and Pakistan grew remarkably.

Overseas customers now use UnionPay cards frequently for daily spending and international travels. For instance, this year, the transaction volume of Korea-issued UnionPay cards in Southeast Asia, Europe and America increased several times over.

“In addition to the traditional acceptance network construction and card issuance, we have launched innovative payment services overseas to attract more customers.” said Cai Jianbo. This year, UnionPay mobile payment products will be rolled out in Southeast Asia.

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