China's UnionPay can't beat them, so it might as well join them: The payments giant is entering a partnership with UK-based fintech Tribe Payments that will allow banks and fintechs to issue its credit cards in Europe from July. Facing intense competition from internet finance titans Alipay and WeChat Pay at home, UnionPay is keen to drum up new business abroad. What better way than to cooperate with a rising British fintech?

China's UnionPay is stepping up European expansion in a bid to capture business from Chinese outbound tourism and corporate travel. The Chinese payments giant has established a partnership with Barclay's, which processes almost half of the UK's credit and debit card transactions, that will allow 110,000 UK merchants to accept UnionPay beginning from the summer of 2019.

Published in Asia Banking Research

Years ago, traditional POS machines only provided basic processing that were more convenient than cash transactions, but provided little help when it came to sales analysis. Smart POS started gaining traction in 2014 and grew rapidly as merchants juggled many different payment channels. A smart POS can process QR code, bank card, Quick Pass, as well as analyze business data, maintain membership details and combine online–offline sales. In December, UnionPay and Alipay both launched new acquiring products.

On December 11th, 2017, China Union Pay (CUP), together with over 30 commercial banks and payment institutions, launched a new version of its mobile payment APP, QuickPass (云闪付), starting a new battle in the mobile payment industry.

The RuPay is an initiative by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It is intended to provide a domestic alternative to the global MasterCard and Visa card payment systems. It will also allow NPCI to consolidate various payment systems in India. It is directly comparable to its Chinese counterpart, China UnionPay, which has been highly successful and is a world leader in payment systems.

The recent wave of Alipay partnerships with merchant acquirers has spanned the globe. With the common goal of letting Chinese tourists pay with Alipay, one of their favorite payment methods, Ant Financial has partnered with Wirecard in Germany, Ingenico in France and First Data in the US.

The recent announcement that Canadian merchants will now accept UnionPay’s mobile QuickPass payment, along with Ingenico partnering with Alipay to provide mobile payments in Europe, highlight that huge strides are being made by both UnionPay and Alipay to infiltrate Western markets and that these efforts are being supported by the Western payments industry.

China is pushing its card industry towards tokenization as it seeks to make digital payments more secure on the Mainland. Banks and payment service providers (PSP) are required to use tokenization to process transaction data by the end of this year, according to Chinese business publication National Business Daily, citing a notice from China’s central bank.

The long expected payment system of smartphone producer Xiaomi has finally entered the market. By cooperating with China’s dominant card-payment processor China UnionPay, users can now make purchases by using their phone and Xiaomi Pay through China UnionPays’ Quickpass system. The company’s latest offering comes as the third-party mobile payment market continues to grow tremendously. According to research firm Analysys Mason, the market valuation was set at 16 trillion yuan in 2015. This has attracted not only Chinese companies such as Huawei and Xiaomi, but foreign companies, as well.

Although UnionPay is known for its control of the domestic Chinese payment market, it also has over 50 million cards issued overseas. So in other words, a China UnionPay branded card issued by a foreign bank in a foreign country and a foreign currency. In its international push, UnionPay would like its cards to be used both online and offline. Foreign cardholders are increasingly using them for paying at POS and for ATM cash withdrawal, however, there was never a compelling case to use UnionPay cards online, where established card brands like Visa and MasterCard dominate.

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