With the rise of Chinese tourism, North American merchants have proved eager to accept Chinese mobile wallets like Alipay and WeChat Pay, and now they can add UnionPay cards to that mix.
Citcon USA LLC said Monday it will enable merchants in the United States and Canada to accept quick-response (QR) codes at the point of sale for UnionPay International payments. Founded in 2002 and based in Shanghai, UnionPay claims a card base of some 7 billion globally, which it says is the largest in the world.
Software from Santa Clara, Calif.-based Citcon equips merchant terminals to scan and process QR codes and forward transactions to relevant gateways. “With the [new] partnership, UnionPay QR code will be introduced to Citcon’s extensive merchant network and launched through our POS scanner and all major POS and payment gateways that are integrated with Citcon’s Enterprise API, covering shopping malls and outlets, enterprise retailers, commercial areas, and travel destinations favored by Chinese tourists, students, and business travelers,” said Wei Jiang, Citcon’s president and chief operating officer, in a statement. Information on how many locations the UnionPay integration will encompass was not immediately available.
To pay with UnionPay at North American merchants, cardholders add their credit or debit cards to the UnionPay app, press “payment & receive,” and select “non-Chinese Mainland payment.” That action generates a QR code that can be processed outside Mainland China, according to Citcon. The app will also offer a variety of discounts, the company says.
Citcon has worked with merchants and processors over the past few years to allow Chinese tourists to pay with the popular Alipay and WeChat Pay wallets at stores in the United States and Canada. One recent development involved 7-Eleven Inc., which in October said it was enabling acceptance of the two wallets at 35 stores in Toronto and Vancouver, British Columbia, making 7-Eleven the first c-store chain to accept the mobile-payments services in Canada. Alipay is a service of China’s Ant Financial Group, and WeChat Pay is owned by that country’s e-commerce giant Tencent Holdings Ltd.
The growth of Chinese tourism has prompted merchants to seek ways to accept the QR-code-based mobile-payments services Chinese citizens have made popular in their home country. Some 2.97 million Chinese visited the U.S. in 2016, the last year for which numbers are available, up 14% from 2015. They spent $33 billion, up 9%.