Chinese card payment services provider UnionPay International and financial services firm Standard Bank have agreed to accelerate access to UnionPay’s cards across key markets in Africa, the companies said in a statement on Monday.
The move will bring increased convenience to Chinese people transacting in Africa and smooth the way for easier payments by South Africans doing business or travelling in China.
“The UnionPay card will enable users from China to transact initially using Standard Bank electronic facilities in South Africa and ten Standard Bank markets across Africa. UnionPay card users will be able to pay for services on Standard Bank issued point-of-sales terminals and will have access to the Standard Bank automatic teller machine (ATM) network.”
For South African business travellers to China, UnionPay cards issued in South Africa by Standard Bank will bring new levels of convenience. In future, payments and transactions will take place through swiping of cards at merchants and at any ATM across the country. The problems associated with carrying cash for all payments will, therefore, become a thing of the past.
Further, because payment applications (apps) are popular in China and most are UnionPay-enabled, Standard Bank‘s UnionPay capability will allow Africa-based business people and tourists with Standard Bank accounts, cards or online payment products to access the full range of payment apps currently used to transact in China.
China UnionPay provides an interbank network in China, linking all the ATMs of all banks across the country. Its international subsidiary, UnionPay International, is accepted in 170 countries and regions across the globe.
The signing of the memorandum of understanding (MoU), in Johannesburg, on Monday, by China UnionPay chairperson Ge Huayong and Standard Bank Group CEO Sim Tshabalala reaffirms the partnership between the two institutions that began eight years ago.
Standard Bank is on track to become the first bank in South Africa to offer its customers access to UnionPay’s prepaid card offering, it said in the statement.
“China is widely acknowledged for the pivotal role it plays in driving Africa’s economic growth. It is Africa’s largest economic partner, recording trade growth of about 20% a year over the last 20 years. Chinese foreign domestic investment has grown at the rate of 40% a year over the last decade.
“As many as 10 000 Chinese-owned firms are operating across the continent. Simultaneously, growing numbers of African businesses, ranging from individual entrepreneurs to corporations, are doing business in China,” Tshabalala said.
“The partnership will play an important role in expanding the commercial ties that join our regions, accelerating economic development, job creation and industrialisation. We are honoured to be the first African bank to be licensed to issue UnionPay cards in South Africa,” he added.
The collaboration between the two businesses will further ensure smooth cross-border payment between China and Africa, offering stronger support for China-Africa trade and personnel exchanges.
“In addition to the constant improvement of our acceptance network and local card issuance, UnionPay is willing to carry out extensive collaboration with local institutions in Africa.
“We will expedite the launch of our innovative payment products, such as UnionPay quantity recognition code payment and UnionPay cross-border business-to-business platform to offer tailored payment services to the local markets and customers, and to support the development of financial inclusion in Africa,” said Ge.