UnionPay Goes Global

China’s UnionPay, which already has more payment cards in circulation than Visa or MasterCard, is now planning to expand beyond its current 148 countries and regions outside mainland China, according to Cash & Treasury Management File.

The expansion plan includes efforts to “improve services so that more foreign nationals adopt our products,” the company told China’s Xinhua news service.

In 2013, 38 percent of all payment cards worldwide were issued by UnionPay, more than No. 2 Visa (24 percent) and third-ranked MasterCard (18 percent), according to Retail Bank Research, and UnionPay is now the second-largest payment network by value of payments processed, after Visa. Most of those cards are in the wallets of Chinese mainland users who made more than 100 million trips overseas in 2014, including 3.5 million trips to Europe and 2.7 million trips to the Americas.

But another 10 million UnionPay cards have been issued by banks in South Korea, and the company’s overseas arm, UnionPay International, hopes to expand both the number of merchants and ATMs accepting the cards and the number of users outside of China.

Other countries that currently provide UnionPay services are in Japan, Mongolia, Hong Kong and Macao. In August, Russia began to roll out UnionPay cards after Visa and MasterCard froze some accounts as part of Ukraine-related sanctions.


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