Central bank urges making foreigners' payments more convenient

Shen Mengdan
The Shanghai Bureau of the People's Bank of China wants city's financial institutions to improve mobile payments and foreign card acceptance.
Shen Mengdan

Editor's note:

Shanghai has made intensive efforts to improve payment services for foreigners, ranging from cash, mobile payments to foreign card acceptance. Let's check out what the city has been doing to make it easier for foreigners visiting China.

Central bank urges making foreigners' payments more convenient

Payment convenience has been made a government priority.

The Shanghai Bureau of the People's Bank of China called on financial institutions in the city to improve mobile payments and foreign card acceptance, making it more convenient for foreigners visiting China.

During a meeting on the optimization of payment services held last week, the bureau urged financial institutions, including Bank of Shanghai, China UMS and relevant payment institutions, to make more efforts in payment improvement.

The meeting also aimed to further implement the requirements released from the general office of the state council on payment convenience earlier this month.

In detail, the central bank called for better acceptance of foreign cards, cash use, mobile payment and bank account services, along with more publicity and promotional activities, making payment easier for foreigners as well as the elderly.

Shanghai, as an international financial center, is an important window for China's opening up. At present, the coverage rate of foreign card acceptance in key places such as Shanghai's airports, train stations, star-rated hotels, and key business districts, as well as the coverage rate of ATMs supporting foreign card cash withdrawals, have significantly increased.

Tu Hong, business director of Bank of Communications and president of its Shanghai branch, said the bank has formulated a series of new measures to facilitate payment, including enhancing the acceptance of overseas bank cards.

"We will strive to achieve no less than 80 percent coverage of foreign card acceptance for key merchants within 30 days, and 100 percent coverage within 45 days," Tu said.

BoCom will also ensure that existing POS machines support contact, contactless, as well as mobile payment methods of mainstream international card organizations.

It will set up a special window to provide facilitated account opening services for foreigners in all of its 2,837 branches nationwide, providing online appointments for opening accounts.

Shanghai Pudong Development Bank is also making similar moves.

Ding Wei, director of retail business of SPDB, said they will "continue to deploy and improve the functions of local and foreign currency cash self-service devices at key ports of entry."

Service outlets at Pudong and Hongqiao airports have been set to provide comprehensive payment services and publicity and guidance for foreigners.

At present, SPDB has placed nearly 3,000 small change packets in Shanghai. Nearly 1,000 foreign card acquiring POS machines have been placed in Nanjing Road, Xintiandi, Yuyuan Garden, Lujiazui and other popular shopping districts.

Mobile payment

Alipay has also been optimizing its payment services, according to Wang Lijuan, vice president of Ant Group.

Alipay has been taking the lead in piloting a small amount of authentication-free functions to enhance and optimize transaction limits; and launching digital services to provide international tourists with digital services such as online translation, taxi calling, hotel booking and exchange rate inquiries.

At present, Alipay has launched two sets of service programs with partners including NetsUnion Clearing Corporation (NUCC), Bank of China and ICBC to guarantee convenient mobile payment services for overseas individuals within China.

One is to scan the Alipay QR code directly with an overseas e-wallet, and the other is to download the Alipay App and add an overseas bank card.

Currently, overseas users only need two steps to use Alipay. First, download and register the Alipay App; second, connect a bank card.

International bank cards currently supported include Visa, Mastercard, JCB, Discover® and Diners Club International® cards.

On March 14, PBC released bilingual payment guidelines for foreigners coming to China.

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