UnionPay Continues Its Quest For Global Dominance With Europe Card Launch

UnionPay is one of the dominant market leaders when it comes to cashless payments in China. SIX Payment Services, together with UnionPay and Bank of China, have launched a new credit card for Chinese travelers. This new card offers the same comfort as a traditional UnionPay card, but it will allow European merchants to benefit from the purchasing power Chinese travelers bring to the table.

The New Europe Card For Chinese Travelers

As the name suggests, this new payment card is aimed directly at Chinese consumers traveling to Europe on a regular basis. Up until this point, it has been difficult for travelers and tourists to spend money without obtaining cash when spending abroad. Even though UnionPay acts as a payment card like any other, there has been a demand for more convenient solutions to avoid expensive foreign exchange rates.

UnionPay, Bank of China, and SIX Payment Services acknowledge that this group of travelers offers a lot of potential. High-end merchants in Europe would love to take advantage of these opportunities but have been unable to capitalize on this market so far. With the new Europe Card, there will be an initial 5% cash back incentive for purchases made at select European merchants. This move should bolster adoption of the new payment method.

Bank of China has been actively developing new solutions to make international payment card spending more attractive to Chinese consumers. Their Travel Mate Credit Card program has issued roughly 2 million payment cards already, all of which are based on the UnionPay scheme. All cards target a particular region, such as the US, Japan, Korea, and now also Europe.

SIX Payment Services Division CEO Jürg Weber told the media:

“We are pleased to extend our long-term partnership with UnionPay. The new Europe Card is a good incentive for Chinese tourists to shop at our merchants. Additionally, merchants benefit from a free advertising platform that directs Chinese consumers towards their stores in person or in the future also via e-commerce. I am proud that SIX Payment Services can provide the payment infrastructure for this innovative offering. Our aim is to help our merchants to increase their turnover and to enhance the shopping experience of Chinese visitors.”

There is one simple reason why UnionPay became the world’s leading payment scheme: their partnership with SIX Payment Services. Contrary to what some people may believe, UnionPay is the market leader over Visa, as they switched positions back in 2015. UnionPay generated far more transactions in that year, although it remains to be seen if the balance will have shifted again in 2016.

All of these new payment card solutions hinge on merchant adoption. Some countries are more prone to accept these cards, as nine in ten Swiss merchants accept them. Switzerland is a very prominent region for Chinese travelers, as they seem more willing to buy goods and services in that region. With the new Europe Card, that trend will, hopefully, spill over to other European countries.

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