UnionPay International (UPI) announced today that it has partnered with the International Bank of Tajikistan to launch the country’s first contactless e-wallet, making UnionPay the first payment brand to offer mobile contactless payment services in the country. As a result, the number of e-wallets outside the Chinese mainland that support UnionPay cards reaches 100. Meanwhile, the number of merchants accepting UnionPay mobile payments has exceeded 10 million. The two milestones mark the forming of an interconnected UnionPay cross-border mobile payment ecosystem.
An Evolving Product Portfolio
The growth of the global mobile payment industry has accelerated in recent years, with the transaction scale up by nearly three times from 2017 to 2020. In line with the trend, UPI continues to apply the technology, specifications and market experience of Chinese mainland mobile payments to the international market. As the first international card scheme engaged in switching and clearing of mobile payments, UnionPay now offers a variety of wallet products such as the UnionPay App, mobile QuickPass and QR code e-wallets outside the Chinese mainland. Users can enjoy diverse payment experiences with a scan, tap or click. In particular, UnionPay launched the new mobile QuickPass this year, with some products integrating contactless, QR code and in-app payments. This means the payment demands in all use cases in and outside the Chinese mainland can be met with one mobile phone.
UnionPay standard e-wallets have been launched in more than 20 countries and regions, including Hong Kong, Macao, South Pacific, and Southeast Asia, and nearly ten new e-wallets were rolled out in the second quarter of this year alone. One out of every five transactions initiated by cards issued outside the Chinese mainland goes through mobile payment tools. For example, the Hong Kong and Macao versions of the UnionPay App provide access to almost all local card-issuing banks, driving 18 e-wallets in the region to support UnionPay QR codes, with over 1 million cards enrolled.
Arab News Express, a prominent news website in the UAE, commented that the cooperation between UnionPay and local institutions has improved the mobile payment environment in the Middle East and protected consumer health. Khmer Times, a Cambodian media outlet, said that UPI’s diversified cooperation with local banks in mobile payment has helped accelerate Cambodia’s transition to a cashless society. The rapid localization of UPI’s mobile payment business has benefitted from several factors: firstly, the four-party model under which UPI operates is in line with the regulatory requirements of each country and makes it easier to develop deep and win-win cooperation with local partners; secondly, UPI offers a wide range of solutions to meet the needs of users in different markets; thirdly, all types of products are compliant with EMV specifications and hence can be used in cross-border use cases, which adds to the appeal.
The e-wallet launched in Tajikistan reflects these features. Local POS terminals supporting UnionPay QuickPass account for over 80% of the total, and the International Bank of Tajikistan has also issued a large number of UnionPay cards within the country over the past three years. Taking into account the characteristics of the local acceptance network and the needs of cardholders, the UnionPay contactless e-wallet solution has less demanding requirements on mobile hardware and high Android compatibility. Users can simply link their UnionPay cards with their wallets to make tap-and-go payments at home and abroad seamlessly.
A Mobile Payment Ecosystem Taking Shape
In addition to a wide range of localized products, the increasingly sophisticated acceptance network and enhanced digital payment service capabilities have accelerated the formation of the UnionPay mobile payment ecosystem. Currently, UnionPay’s physical acceptance network has been extended to 180 countries and regions, more than half of which support UnionPay’s mobile payment services. UnionPay QR payments have been rolled out in 45 countries and regions, with over 1.5 million merchants outside the Chinese mainland accepting the payment product, three times the number of the same period last year. Additionally, 9 million POS terminals outside the Chinese mainland accept UnionPay QuickPass payments, doubling the number last year.