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Russian Bank Embracing China UnionPay Cards

Russia’s Laitbank is expected to begin issuing 10,000 China UnionPay cards this month, according to Ria Novosti.

The online newspaper Gazeta.ru reported that Laitbank has been in talks with UnionPay since 2012, and finally received a shipment of plastic cards from China in mid-August. The bank expects to receive another 50,000 cards over the next two months, the paper reported.

The Vostochny Express and MDM banks have already announced plans to issue UnionPay cards. Several top Russian banks, including Alfa Bank, Gazprombank and Bank of Moscow, also reportedly preparing to issue the cards as well, but none of those banks confirmed that their UnionPay plans.

A Russian subsidiary of China Construction Bank is also preparing to issue 600,000 UnionPay cards in September, according to Gazeta.ru. That has not been confirmed either.

However, UnionPay has confirmed that it is signing up banks in Russia, though without identifying specific institutions. In July, Fen Zhiguang, a China UnionPay representative, said the card brand has acquired about 30 new partner banks in Russia, and added that the company plans to increase the number of UnionPay debit and credit cards to two million over the next three years.

UnionPay, which was launched in 2002 by the People’s Bank of China, is now the second-largest payment network by value of payments processed, behind Visa.

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