China UnionPay expands business partnership along Belt and Road

Tracy Li
China UnionPay has teamed up with six countries along the Belt and Road Initiative region to build an interconnected payment network.
Tracy Li

China UnionPay’s international business arm announced on Tuesday that it has teamed up with six Belt an Road Initiative countries in a bid to build an interconnected payment network within the region and support personnel exchanges.

UnionPay International on Tuesday signed agreements with five mainstream institutions from Indonesia, Laos, Thailand, the UAE and Uzbekistan in Beijing to boost cooperation in traditional and digital issuance of UnionPay cards as well as the construction of local bank card payment networks.

This is an important step in localizing overseas business, the Shanghai-based company said.

UnionPay International signed an MoU with BCEL, Laos’ largest commercial bank, to establish a joint venture with eight local institutions and jointly operate the Lao National Bank Card Payment System. 

In 2015, China UnionPay helped Laos build its payment system and last year, the Bank of the the Lao People's Democratic Republic, the central bank, proposed a joint venture with UnionPay to further enhance the modernization of the country's local financial payment infrastructure.

Under the agreement, major local banks in Indonesia and Thailand will carry out their first large-scale issuance of UnionPay premium cards.

Etisalat's BOTIM, the largest real-time communication application in the UAE, also plans to issue UnionPay virtual cards on a large scale to enable its users to make payments through scanning the UnionPay QR code.

Also, a package of agreements on credit card and premium card issuance were signed with Uzbekistan’s Aloqabank.

Also on Tuesday, Malaysia's AmBank became the first major bank there to issue the UnionPay credit card. It was also the first local UnionPay credit card that supports contactless payment service.

Fan Yifei, deputy governor of the People’s Bank of China, said the agreements are a "significant pathway” to realize the connectivity of policy, infrastructure, trade, finance and people in the Belt and Road Initiative countries and regions.

UnionPay International added that it would continue to offer innovative technical standards for bank card payment network organizations in Central and Eastern Europe, Central Asia and Southeast Asia.

It would also be committed to accelerating the launch of UnionPay QR code standards overseas, and promoting the adoption of this technical standards as local industry standards by regulators in Southeast Asia and other areas.

Now, 106 countries and regions along the Belt and Road, including the Maritime Silk Road, offer UnionPay services, with over 43 million UnionPay cards issued and accepted by more than 12 million merchants and 800,000 ATMs.

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