As we have mentioned before, a key part of China UnionPay's growth strategy is international expansion. Up until this point, most of that international initiative has focused on expanding card acceptance globally. (Kapronasia was in NYC last week and even saw a CUP sticker at a very local pizza shop). The announcement that they are expanding the quickpass system internationally fits with the on-going theme that we've looked at where contactless payments could form the beachhead of a larger international play in contactless / mobile payments.
Very briefly, QuickPass is a contactless-enabled payment solution that has been incorporated into many existing and nearly every new China UnionPay payment card that has been issued in China. QuickPass functions as a wallet and needs to be loaded, as opposed to NFC, Alipay, or traditional card payments where the bank account can be directly accessed.
South Korea is also a great place to start. We were in Seoul a few weeks ago for Inside Bitcoins Seoul and were amazed by the number of Chinese tourists visiting their cosmetically famous neighbour. Although its quite common to see throngs of Chinese tourists in duty-free, it was especially remarkable at the airport as we flew out.
Anecdotally though, QuickPass doesn't seem to really have caught on in mainland China. Although there are nearly 4 million point-of-sale terminals out there with QuickPass capabilities, we haven't seen too much uptake in day to day usage. Interestingly though, spreading the technology globally could actually help both UnionPay's international expansion plans and it's domestic acceptance. The Chinese consumers who would be using the functionality abroad in South Korea are likely more affluent, so would spend more and might help to increase usage of QuickPass in mainland China as well.
In addition, as we've mentioned before, CUP seems quite interested in the NFC-based AndroidPay solution and may indeed be the first company to roll it out in 2015. QuickPass works slightly differently from a technical and functional perspective, but may provide a solid basis to build on.
In our upcoming 2015 Top-10 Financial Technology trends webinar, mobile payments will be a key part of the discussion and will indeed be throughout 2015. What will be especially interesting is how China UnionPay continues to chip away at a mobile / contactless payment world that the company is struggling to break in to.