China’s largest payment and clearing network (and until very recently, China’s only payment and clearing network), UnionPay, has teamed up with 20 lenders nationwide to offer its own mobile payments product. The move comes as UnionPay attempts to capture customers back from China’s ascendant mobile pay systems — Alibaba’s Alipay and Tencent’s Tenpay.
Alipay controlled 83 percent of China’s third-party mobile payment market in 2014; Tenpay held 10 percent. Mobile payments picked up 134 percent in China to $3.5 trillion last year, according to central bank data.
Unlike the QR codes its more established competitors rely on, UnionPay’s mobile option makes use of NFC technology, meaning users (once their payment card data is saved on their smartphone) can pay by tapping their phones at compatible registers. The announcement came via product brochures passed out at an event in Beijing on Saturday (Dec. 12), reports Bloomberg.
That event was attended by People’s Bank of China Deputy Governor Fan Yifei and UnionPay President Shi Wenchao.