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UnionPay expands beyond China

World's largest bank card group to introduce open-platform wallet in global markets.

"UnionPay is committed to bringing state-of-the-art payment technology to international markets and to building a global contactless acceptance network. It is focused on delivering value by providing innovative and cost-effective payment solutions to consumers and businesses." - UnionPay International spokesman.

UNIONPAY International expects to soon launch an open-platform wallet function as a means to help its partners outside of China to build their wallet application, as consumers are increasingly going mobile.

This comes as the world's largest bank card group is pushing ahead with its global expansion, following along with its Chinese clients as they head for overseas markets to drink, dine and shop.

"Our vision for this app is for it to be a one-stop mobile wallet that allows consumers to make payment easily for daily services like shopping, utilities and transport," said a spokesman.

UnionPay has moved to bring QR code payments to markets beyond mainland China.

It has identified more than 10 key markets for QR code payment implementation. Besides Singapore and Thailand, these key markets include Hong Kong, Macau, as well as markets in the Middle East, Central Asia and South-east Asia.

These markets have been earmarked due to the local regulators' support for QR code payments, along with the markets' calls for the QR code payments to be adopted as a low-cost mobile payment option.

In May this year, it partnered Mastercard and Visa to launch a common QR code standard for payment in Thailand, the first in the region.

It separately announced a QR code pilot at Soi La Lai Sap Market in Silom, Bangkok, to be rolled out later this year.

UnionPay is also the first international payment network to introduce a cross-border marketing platform using the QR code technology to offer exclusive privileges for cardholders in China and abroad.

To date, one billion UnionPay contactless cards have been issued, and about 600,000 contactless terminals have been deployed in over 10 countries and regions.

UnionPay has also gained traction on online payment, with more than 10 million e-commerce merchants based outside mainland China now accepting UnionPay cards.


UnionPay is part of the EMVCo Global Workgroup, which develops the international standard for QR code payments, and is a member of SGQR taskforce - the industry workgroup set up to develop a common QR code for payments in Singapore.

The SGQR Taskforce will be co-led by Monetary Authority Of Singapore, Info-communications Media Development Authority and several stakeholders such as banks, payment schemes, QR payment service providers, and relevant government agencies. The taskforce plans to by the end of 2017 set out standardised SGQR specifications to accept both domestic and international payment schemes. It will also consider the governance structure and implementation strategy for QR payments.

In June this year, UnionPay ran a pilot programme to trial QR code payments in Singapore at all BreadTalk outlets, as well as at a number of Bath & Body Works and Victoria's Secret outlets.

"Following this pilot, we will be extending the service to more merchants in Singapore, and enabling local consumers to enjoy the ease of paying with QR Code when they travel to popular destinations overseas," said its spokesman.

UnionPay is also partnering regulators and payment alliances such as Asian Payment Network (APN) and Myanmar Payment Union to improve the security of local payments.

It launched the UnionPay IC Card Standard (UICS) licence product to assist these countries and their switch networks to set up the domestic chip card standard. This helps licencees to provide for regional payment interoperability in a more secure manner.

UICS has been chosen as the domestic chip card standard by Thailand and Myanmar as well as by seven members of the APN. By the end of 2017, almost four million cards using the UICS standard will be circulating in Thailand.

UnionPay already has a wide payment network in three developing countries in this region: Laos, Myanmar and Cambodia. In Myanmar, its cards are accepted at nearly all ATMs, while more than 80 per cent of merchants there accept UnionPay cards. The company had also gone one step ahead by allowing cash transactions in the local currency, kyat, whereas other players offer mainly US dollars.


It is also raising the bar on security, using biometric ID such as fingerprint and face ID, as well as tokenisation, to ramp up on digital security.

"Back-end risk control policies are also being used to improve digital security according to the different mobile payment products, such as incorporating transaction attempt limits, single transaction amount limits, and accumulated transaction amount per day," said the spokesman.

UnionPay has upped its game in the area of fintech, establishing an E-Payment Research Institute that works with universities and industry stakeholders to closely track and pilot new forms of technologies.

"UnionPay is committed to bringing state-of-the-art payment technology to international markets and to building a global contactless acceptance network," added the spokesman.

"It is focused on delivering value by providing innovative and cost-effective payment solutions to consumers and businesses."

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