UnionPay International accelerates business development in the Middle East market

On 3 March 2016, UnionPay International announces that it will cooperate with Al Rajhi Bank in Saudi Arabia to launch acceptance of UnionPay cards (card number starting with 62) in all ATMs and merchants of the bank, rapidly bringing the coverage ratio of ATMs and merchants accepting UnionPay cards to 30% and 20% respectively since the end of last year when merchants in Saudi Arabia started to accept UnionPay cards. It is believed that these figures will continue to grow this year. UnionPay International is speeding up its business development in the Middle East, with UnionPay card acceptance network and use channels getting more mature.

In the Middle East, UnionPay International starts to expand in major economies ,accelerate the construction of a convenient UnionPay card acceptance network and promote local card issuance in eligible markets. In Turkey, a total of 300,000 merchants started to accept UnionPay cards last year, bringing the merchant acceptance coverage to 60% which is expected to grow to 90% within this year; in UAE, UnionPay cards are accepted by all POS terminals and ATM acceptance has witnessed constant improvement. Besides, MINT, a local financial service group, decided early this year on massive UnionPay card isssuance in the three years to come. In Qatar and Jordan, UnionPay cards have been issued locally and local consumers can apply for a UnionPay card directly from local banks and enjoy convenient services brought by UnionPay's global network.

Saudi Arabia has become a "miniature" in the Middle East in terms of UnionPay card business development. Saudi Arabia is China's largest trade partner in Middle East, and also an important country alongside the "One Belt, One Road". China and Saudi Arabia have established close relations in railway, housing construction, port, and communications. Public data shows that there were about 160 Chinese enterprises and 36,000 workers dwelling in Saudi Arabia by last September. As more and more Chinese enterprises and people travel to Saudi Arabia, the demand for safe and convenient cross-border payment will continue to grow.

At the end of 2014, UnionPay International launched the UnionPay card ATM acceptance in Saudi Arabia for the first time. Thereafter, UnionPay International committed to expanding the UnionPay card use channels through cooperation with local mainstream institutions so as to satisfy the payment needs of people travelling to Saudi Arabia for business and pilgrimage. Al Rajhi Bank is the largest ATM acquiring institution in Saudi Arabia, holding about one fourths of market shares for both ATMs and POS terminals. This cooperation with UnionPay International will realize UnionPay card acceptance by all 4,000 ATMs and over 10,000 POS terminals of the Bank, bringing substantial convenience to UnionPay cardholders visiting Saudi Arabia. Next, UnionPay International will continue to expand the local UnionPay card acceptance coverage and is expecting the issuance of the first UnionPay card locally as early as possible.

Currently, UnionPay card acceptance network has extended to over 150 countries and regions overseas, and UnionPay cards have become acceptable in over 30 million merchants and 2 million ATMs worldwide. Currently, UnionPay International is taking different strategies in different markets to actively promote the localized development of UnionPay card business while constantly optimizing the UnionPay card acceptance network.