Union Pay’s unfair advantage on global scene

Union Pay continues to enjoy unparalleled growth with the support of increasing affluent PRCs and the support of Chinese banks.


Union Pay is fighting for market share in emerging markets. In countries such as Indonesia, Malaysia, Kazakhstan, local banks have started issuing Union Pay cards to more non PRCs. Union Pay who is losing market share in their home market is now competing with Visa and MasterCard for international market share. This is a big shift from its strategy in the last few decades. Union Pay used to enjoy monopoly market share in China until the arriving of Alipay and Wechat Pay.

It is now reported that Union Pay is accepted across more than 41 million merchants across the globe. Back in China, some complained China’s protectionism measures against Visa and MasterCard – allowing local Chinese banks to prefer Union Pay over other card schemes. Union Pay is now accepted across Asia. In Singapore, local banks are now issuing Union Pay cards. UOB UnionPay Platinum Card and DBS UnionPay Platinum Debit Card are two such examples. Union Pay is not backward in terms of technology. Just like Visa Paywave and MasterCard’s contactless payments, Union Pay’s Quickpass equally offers painless, quick payments using NFC technology.

In 2016, it was rumored that China banks stopped the orders of all foreign card issuers. This is perhaps possible now that Union Pay has built strong payment networks globally. Chinese PRC customers can now pay across the globe with Union Pay issued cards.

A source from Statista showed Union Pay enjoyed 51% growth between 2012 and 2017, a sharp contrast between the Chinese giant and the rest (averaging between 20% to 40% growth over the same 5 year period).

Source: Statista

In another source from Statista, the number of Union Pay payment cards increased from 3.5 billion to 5.3 billion within 2012 and 2017.

Source: Statista

While Union Pay is facing tough competition back at “home” (in China), the Chinese card company is enjoying unparalleled success globally. With the increasing affluent Chinese tourists and the support of local Chinese banks, Union Pay looks set to secure quality growth in Asia Pacific. Payment card transactions as an industry will continue to soar. Union Pay is in the right markets and is enjoying the right time for business growth.

Source: Statista