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The Daily Telegraph: UnionPay opens up world for tourists

UnionPay, China’s national bank card payment processor, saw its overseas mobile transaction volume surge during the weeklong 2018 Spring Festival holiday, as millions of Chinese people celebrated the traditional festival abroad. 

Figures from UnionPay show that its volume of overseas mobile transactions completed via its UnionPay Mobile QuickPass — a form of near- eld communication payment technology — and QR codes increased 150 per cent year- on-year during the traditional Chinese New Year holiday from Feb 15 to 21. The number of mobile transactions was three times higher than that seen in 2017. 

An increasing number of overseas businesses have started to offer UnionPay QR code payment services in a bid to cater to the changing demands of UnionPay cardholders. 

Leading up to the 2018 Chinese New Year, businesses in Nepal, Djibouti, Kenya and many other countries and regions launched UnionPay QR code payment services. 

The company has partnered with Kenya’s largest banking service provider KCB Bank to expand its QR code payment service network. UnionPay QR code payment services are o ered over the counter at Kenya Airways, South African Airways, chain store operator Naukumat and KFC. More than 2,500 businesses in the country are set to join UnionPay’s QR code payment network by the end of 2018. 

In Nepal, popular outdoor products and equipment retailers, such as The North Face and Marmot, advertise their UnionPay facilities to attract the attention of Chinese travellers. More than 1,000 local businesses will o er such services by the end of 2018. 

A bus carrying an advertisement for UnionPay’s services passes through Parliament Square in London. 


In Djibouti, the number of stores offering UnionPay’s QR code payment service will reach about 500 by the end of March, according to the company. 

It said a great number of businesses in Indonesia, Cambodia and Mauritius will launch the service in the next few months, and it has already been introduced in Singapore and Vietnam, as well as China’s Taiwan, Hong Kong and Macao. 

Apart from QR code payments, the UnionPay Mobile QuickPass was also popular among Chinese travellers during the Spring Festival holiday. 
UnionPay cardholders can make QuickPass payments in 18 countries and regions, including Singapore, Australia and Russia. Some stores in Japan and China’s Hong Kong offered exclusive discounts to UnionPay QuickPass users. 

Although mobile payment is gaining popularity among Chinese travellers, traditional bank cards remain the most highly favoured payment option. 
Overseas businesses have taken measures to offer more convenience for UnionPay cardholders over the past few years. 

Emporium Melbourne, a major shopping centre in the Australian city, launched UnionPay card payment services before the 2018 Chinese New Year. 
“Accepting UnionPay makes for simple and pleasant shopping experiences for Chinese tourists who visit during the Spring Festival holiday,” said Kate Rooney, manager of Emporium Melbourne. 

Figures from UnionPay show that its services are available at over 23 million businesses and 1.64 million ATMs in 168 other countries and regions. 
During this year’s Spring Festival holiday, noted restaurants, hotels, stores and entertainment service providers in 22 popular overseas tourist destinations offered exclusive discounts of up to 30 per cent for UnionPay cardholders. 

Supported by the expanding service network, Chinese travellers are becoming more active in using UnionPay cards outside the Chinese mainland. 
UnionPay cards were used in 127 countries and regions during this year’s Spring Festival holiday period, increasing from 117 in 2017. 

The transaction volume in countries involved in the Belt and Road Initiative increased significantly during the holiday, doubling in countries such as Turkey, Sri Lanka and Morocco, and increasing nearly 40 per cent in some countries, including Russia and the United Arab Emirates. 

In addition to Chinese cardholders, UnionPay said it also strives to expand its client base in overseas markets. About 90 million UnionPay cards have been issued abroad, which allow foreign travellers more convenience when they visit China. 

B&R destinations become more popular

Spending via UnionPay surged worldwide during this year’s Spring Festival holiday, from Feb 15 to 21, with countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative becoming ever-more popular destinations among Chinese tourists, according to a report released by Chinese card payment processor UnionPay. 

Its report found that Chinese tourists visited more destinations during the 2018 Spring Festival break than in previous years. Travellers from first-tier cities, such as Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Shenzhen, travelled to 100 countries and regions. 

For outbound Chinese mainland tourists, the most popular destinations were China’s Hong Kong and Macao, as well as Japan, Singapore and Thailand. The Philippines, Sri Lanka, Russia, Turkey and Australia all saw rapid growth in Chinese tourists during the period. 

As tourists attach great importance to the quality of experiences gained from overseas trips, they are spending more and more on eating out and entertainment. 

Data from UnionPay showed that tourists’ expenditure on catering in Japan increased rapidly from the same period of last year. 

In particular, visitors from third-tier or smaller cities saw the fastest growth in catering spending, posting a 93.48 per cent year-on-year gain. 

UnionPay’s report took Zhongshan, a city in South China’s Guangdong province, as an example. 

Tourists from the city increased their spending on eating out during the 2018 Spring Festival holiday by 42.5 per cent year- on-year, outstripping growth in shopping and accommodation spending. 

With the growing popularity of self-guided and self-driving overseas tours, Chinese tourists are also increasingly willing to spend more on high-quality hotels and car rental, according to the report. 

Another trend the report identi ed is that countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative are becoming increasingly popular with Chinese tourists. 

During the weeklong holiday, the number of tourists visiting those countries and regions as well as their spending both increased by 16 per cent from the same period last year. 

Of the countries involved in the initiative, Thailand, Singapore, the United Arab Emirates, Malaysia and Cambodia were the top destinations in terms of Chinese tourists’ expenditure. 

Beijing, Shanghai and Guangzhou remain the main force in outbound tourism, contributing more than 30 per cent of Chinese travellers’ total consumption in the countries and regions involved in the Belt and Road Initiative. 

As more UnionPay cards are issued overseas and more foreigners visit China, the card has established itself as an international brand and serves as an instrumental payment option. 

To date, 90 million UnionPay cards have been issued in 48 countries and regions, other than the Chinese mainland. Transactions were completed with these UnionPay cards in 103 countries and regions during this year’s Spring Festival holiday. 

In addition, more foreign travellers used UnionPay cards in China during the festival break than last year. Instead of being focused in first and second-tier cities, overseas visitors’ usage has expanded across China. 

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