MARKETS INSIDER：UnionPay International Offers Easier Cross-border Transactions as Overseas Issuance Reaches 120 million
In the first half of this year, financial institutions in countries including Sri Lanka, Uganda and Mexico began issuing UnionPay cards for the first time, contributing to the total number of UnionPay cards issued outside mainland China to surpassing 120 million. Among these cards, over 5 million are UnionPay premium cards (Platinum and Diamond), marking a year-on-year increase of about 20%.
During the same period, the issuance volume of UnionPay virtual cards designed to support mobile payment services for clients outside mainland China reached about 1 million, signaling the increasing demand for technologically innovative products within the financial sector.
Easier cross-border transactions
UnionPay's service now covers 174 countries and regions. In 2018, the transaction volume of UnionPay cards issued outside mainland China increased by about 40% year-on-year. UnionPay cards issued in Hong Kong, Macao, Southeast Asia, and Central Asia saw 90% of transactions occur locally. While in countries including Kenya, Belarus, and the Philippines, UnionPay cards are predominantly used as payroll cards, student cards and citizen cards.
In the same year, UnionPay cards issued outside mainland China saw transactions across 135 markets, with cross-border transactions up by more than 20% year-on-year. Many of these transactions have occurred in mainland China, with cards issued in Tanzania, Tajikistan and Laosexperiencing a year-on-year increase in transaction volume of up to eight times.
Premium cards favored by overseas cardholders
UnionPay premium cards, including Platinum Card and Diamond Card, are preferred by customers outside mainland China since holders can enjoy essential benefits such as concierge services, personal assistance, airport VIP lounges, and all other consumer rights within the U Collection, the UnionPay Premium Cards Privilege Platform.
AmBank, a major commercial bank in Malaysia, will issue UnionPay Platinum Credit Cards on a large scale this year. Group Chief Executive Officer of AmBank Group, Dato Sulaiman Mohd Tahir, said "Through this collaboration, we are able to leverage UnionPay's strong global presence, as well as access to UnionPay exclusive deals and The U Collection, a global privilege programme that brings together hotels, shopping and specially-curated dining for premium cardholders."
More and more major overseas institutions such as AmBank have begun to issue UnionPay premium cards, upgrading their client services. At present, financial institutions in 23 countries and regions, including Hong Kong, Macao, Japan, South Korea, the United States and Canada, have issued UnionPay premium cards, and the transaction volume of these cards has increased by about 50% since the beginning of this year.
Also, UnionPay has upgraded its U Collection coverage, providing more than 200 discount opportunities in over 20 countries and regions. U Collection covers sectors such as catering, shopping, hotel, lifestyle, and travelling. Cardholders visiting China can enjoy discounts at high-end businesses in China, including Hyatt, Preferred Hotels & Resorts, New World, Pan Pacific hotels, as well as Shanghai Disneyland, Legoland Discovery Center, Lane Crawford, K11, and Modern Art Museum in Shanghai.
Innovation drives localization
In line with the trend of digital upgrades in the global payment industry, UPI continues to accelerate its construction of a digital card issuance system based on digital wallets.
At present, multiple e-wallet products in Hong Kong, Singapore, Pakistan and Nepal have rolled out the UnionPay electronic card issuance feature. Users do not need to have a physical card. By only applying for a UnionPay virtual card online in the wallet apps, they can start to use mobile payment services powered by UnionPay.
In Singapore, for example, local consumers can download local mobile payment app, NETS Pay, and receive a UnionPay virtual card as a payment account. After bundling the accounts, users can pay via QR codes at over 10.8 million businesses in 30 countries and regions accepting UnionPay QR code payment.
To support more overseas institutions to issue UnionPay virtual cards seamlessly, UPI has built the SaaS card issuance platform to upgrade its digital payment service capabilities. Through the platform, partner institutions have access to service support, such as online card issuance, tokenization of physical cards, consumption, payments, and cash withdrawal authorization; dramatically reducing the technical barriers and costs to institutions when activating electronic card issuance features.