China-based UnionPay International has created a mobile-payments platform the big payment network hopes will further expand adoption of its payment services beyond its home country.
The platform, dubbed UnionPay International Mobile Payment Service (UMPS), enables banks, merchants, mobile-phone manufacturers, and other third parties to access UnionPay mobile services through open application programming interfaces (APIs), Shanghai-based UnionPay said Wednesday. Current services include UnionPay QuickPass, which supports near-field communication contactless mobile payments, and QR-code payments.
“The launch of UMPS will contribute to the global rollout of the UnionPay mobile-payment products, offering UnionPay cardholders smooth mobile-payment experiences both in and outside mainland China, and further facilitating the ‘going global’ of China’s mobile-payment services, technologies and standards,” UnionPay International chief executive Cai Jianbo said in a news release.
UnionPay claims nearly 10 million merchants and more than 1 million ATMs outside of China accept its cards in addition to the 1.18 million merchants and 170,000 ATMs within the country. In contrast, the nearly identical Visa and Mastercard networks have an estimated 40 million merchant locations worldwide, including about 8.5 million in the U.S., according to Omaha, Neb.-based merchant-acquiring consultancy The Strawhecker Group. UnionPay, which says 1.8 billion cards bear its brand, is working with some U.S. merchant acquirers to enable acceptance of its cards, primarily for the benefit of Chinese tourists and business travelers.
“I view this as more of a play to support their consumer base—primarily their Chinese base—when traveling overseas,” Jared Drieling, senior director of business intelligence at The Strawhecker Group, tells Digital Transactions News by email. “Think of it as a ‘friendly’ Chinese mobile-payment solution for their customer base when traveling. This is also likely a defensive move from local competitors such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, which have been growing at astounding rates and have also expanded their borders.”
UnionPay says QuickPass already is accepted at 1 million point-of-sale terminals outside of China, including in Canada, and that its QR-code service operates in 13 countries and regions. UnionPay also is working with China-based mobile-phone manufacturer Huawei to take the Huawei Pay service global. The two companies created the service in 2016 and say it is supported by 66 banks and works on 20 mobile devices, including smart phones and smart watches.