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UnionPay set to grow globally

CHINA UnionPay Co plans to grow its footprint from 51 markets to 80 by the end of this year, a company president said yesterday.

The Shanghai-based company, which is the country's national card network operator, will deepen its roots in Europe and Middle East this year by adding more automatic teller machines and point of sale machines under the UnionPay network, Xu Luode, the company's president, told Shanghai Daily yesterday.

The company will also team up with more overseas institutions to launch UnionPay cards to ride on China's rising economy, Xu said. More than 40 overseas institutions in eight countries and regions, including Singapore, Japan, Russia, Hong Kong and Macau, have issued UnionPay cards.

As part of its growth strategy, UnionPay is tapping the expertise and networks of overseas partners such as Citigroup. "As our overseas business grows, more mainstream overseas partners are willing to team up with us to build our network," Xu said.

The company started its overseas forays by spearheading into Hong Kong and Macau before expanding into other parts of Asia, Europe and the Americas.

One advantage that UnionPay cardholders enjoy is they don't have to pay foreign exchange fees when shopping and using the card overseas, unlike overseas rival cards such as Visa and MasterCard.

UnionPay started to go overseas in 2004, two years after it was set up and now has 236 members from home and abroad.

Debit cards took up 92 percent of the total bank cards on the Chinese mainland, according to data.


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