CUP, A Chinese Credit Card Network Operator Begins to Set International Standards

China UnionPay ( CUP ), the country’s sole bank card network operator, said Thursday that transactions surged to a record high during the week-long Spring Festival holiday as card holders went on a spending spree. It‘s subsidiary UnionPay International ( UPI ) offers Chinese people and students abroad, international businessmen, exchange students services in banking and finance sector. The services can be used in China and abroad. UPI works with companies like moneygram, Xoom and transferwise to make money transactions possible. It offers tax refund service to people who buy things abroad.

As global merchants are endeavoring to improve the experience of Chinese tourists CUP negotiate rabates and presences in retailershops around the world for their customers. During this Spring Festival, famous restaurants, hotels, stores, entertainment establishments in 22 popular travel destinations are offering exclusive discounts up to 30% off for UnionPay cardholders.

According to data from China Tourism Academy, as many as 6.5 million Chinese people travel abroad this Spring Festival. More than 23 million merchants outside the Chinese Mainland accept UnionPay, which is the preferred bankcard of Chinese tourists, and the cross-border transactions volume of the UnionPay mobile payment has grown substantially during this Spring Festival.

The total value of transactions at home and abroad through the China UnionPay network soared 47 percent from last year’s holiday to 679 billion yuan (about 107 billion US dollars), according to a company statement.

Mobile payment can be used in more than 18 countries with more than 1 mio POS-Terminals. With more and more merchants accepting UnionPay cards, the travel experience of Chinese tourists is getting better and better. In partnership with more than 1700 institutions worldwide, UnionPay International has enabled card acceptance in 168 countries and regions with issuance in 48 countries and regions and went up nearly 150 % overseas. Over 6.5 million overseas trips were expected to be made by Chinese tourists during this year’s holiday., according to the China Tourism Academy.

On 12 July 2016 the President of the European Commission, Jean-Claude Juncker and the Chinese Prime Minister, Li Keqiang, announced that 2018 will be the EU-China Tourism Year (ECTY). At the opening officials of many institutions and industry were found, like Jenna Qian, Vicepresident of Ctrip, Qiu Yin, Vizepresident of Tencent, Wei Zhihong, EU-Generaldirector of UnionPay, Jacopo Sertoli, President of Welcome Chinese, Barry Lin, Tourism Resources Senior Director of Tuniu, Luca Patanè, Chairman of Uvet and Blu Panorama, Mikko Turtiainen, Global Sales Vice President of Finnair, Torstein Hagen, Chairman of Viking Cruises.

The European Commission is preparing the ECTY in close cooperation with CNTA (China National Tourism Administration). Its main priorities are to:

  • show what the EU has to offer to Chinese visitors by supporting various cooperative marketing campaigns
  • facilitate business summits
  • organise Business to Business matchmaking meetings for tourism operators at the most important fairs

Ultimately the EU-China-Tourism Year should boost the tourism between the two countries. This will also boost the card services on both sides.

Also the Network of European Private Sector in Tourism believes that the ECTY is an opportunity for both China and Europe to boost tourism flows in both ways. Therefore, tourism promotion alone is not sufficient to make this a success. A holistic approach is needed; looking at facilitating travel, improving connectivity, addressing the specific needs of group tourism, fostering cultural understanding though training and tutorials, help building partnerships between European and Chinese tourism enterprises, overcoming language barriers, etc.

To strengthen the presence on wuropean market UnionPay starts a cooperation with Concardis GmbH, a german financial service company.

China is the world’s largest travel market in terms of both outbound travel and expenditure. According to ETC, European destinations have welcomed 10,1 million Chinese visitors in 2015, accounting for a share of 13% of all outbound travel from China. At the same time, Europe has sent 4.9 million visitors China, accounting for 19% of the total foreign visitors. In 2016 122 million Chinese travel to abroad destinations, 20% of the global tourism. Higher income and less bureaucracy will invite the middle class to travel abroad. The european tourism industry strengthen it‘s efforts to make the destinations more comfortable for the Chinese tourists.

The standards in financial transaction networks of Serbia, Belarus and Tadschikistan will be build or modernised with UnionPay-standards. More than 10 countries, among them Albania, Bulgaria and Tansania asked UnionPay to help them building a money transfer network in their country.

CUP and UPI are part of Peoples Bank of China, the state owned Chinese Bank. Both companies are not listed at a stock exchange until now.