Established in March 2002, UnionPay is a bankcard association established under the approval of the State Council and the People’s Bank of China. At present, the Shanghai-headquartered UnionPay has about 400 domestic and overseas associate members.
UnionPay has become the central and pivotal part of China’s bankcard industry, and plays an essential role in the industry development. As the bankcard association in China, UnionPay operates an inter-bank transaction settlement system through which the connection and switch between banking systems and the inter-bank, cross-region and cross-border usages of bankcards issued by associate banks could be realized. Based on the system construction and operation as well as the bankcard network, UnionPay actively collaborate with various industrial parties like commercial banks in the efforts to formulate and extend united UnionPay card standards and regulations, create independent bankcard brand, promote the development and application of bankcard, maintain an orderly bankcard acceptance market and prevent bankcard risks.
The establishment of UnionPay stands for the formation of a new industrial system - “joint stipulation of rules, joint popularization of business, joint expansion of market and joint standardization of orders”. It also indicates an intensive and scale development of China’s bankcard industry as well as a new phase of comprehensive and rapid development.
Ever since its establishment, UnionPay has actively responded to the social and economic development in China and the demand for bank cards, with its industrial mission and social responsibilities in mind. UnionPay brings its functions as a bankcard association into full play through cooperation with relevant parties of bankcard industry like commercial banks and professional institutions to blaze a new trail with Chinese feature for the development of China’s bankcard industry. By doing so, UnionPay has not only safeguarded the economic and financial security of China, but also promoted unprecedented and spanning development of China’s bankcard industry, and enabled China to be one of the fastest growing countries with greatest potential in the bankcard industry worldwide.
With the joint efforts of UnionPay and several commercial banks, the bankcard netted utilization in China has been continuously deepened. In addition to the increasing coverage in the eastern regions and large and middle-sized cities, UnionPay network also extends to the middle and western regions, the middle and small-sized cities as well as the rural area. In 2010, domestic UnionPay acceptance network accelerated extension to small and medium-sized cities and the broad rural regions, the numbers of bankcard networking merchants, POS terminals and ATM machines respectively increasing by 40%, 38% and 31%. A scale bankcard acceptance network has been taken shape in China. Along with the continuous deepening of netted utilization as well as ongoing improvement of bankcard acceptance environment nationwide, the bankcard transactions also grow rapidly. In 2010, interbank transaction amount of domestic bankcard reached 11.2 trillion Yuan, a year-on-year growth of 46%. The proportion of bankcard consumption in the total volume of retail sales of social consumables increased from 2.7% in 2001 to 35% at present(note).
In order to meet the growing demand for card use of the Chinese in overseas business, travel and study, and to extend the services of domestic commercial banks abroad via UnionPay network, UnionPay is dedicated to the construction of an international acceptance network. As of today, UnionPay cards have been accepted in 150 countries and regions outside China. Meanwhile, UnionPay also actively promotes issuance of UnionPay standard cards overseas, with a goal of providing payment convenience for foreigners in their work, travel and study in China. At present, 65 institutions in 17 overseas countries and regions have issued UnionPay card locally, with an accumulated card issuance volume of more than 10 million pieces.UnionPay cards are not only well accepted by the domestic cardholders, but also highly appreciated by cardholders in more and more countries and regions.
In response to the economic and social development in China and to fulfill the industrial mission and social responsibilities, UnionPay has joined hands with domestic commercial banks to create an independent bankcard brand - UnionPay card. In August 2003, UnionPay officially launched UnionPay card, its international and high-quality bankcard brand with independent intellectual property that meets unified business practices and technical standards. Thanks to the popularity of UnionPay cards, UnionPay brand also enjoys a high reputation in China. According to the investigation by A.C. Nelson, an international authoritative investigation institution, up to 100% domestic are familiar with UnionPay brand, a much higher rate than that of any other famous bankcard brand in China.
UnionPay strives to promote various bankcard-based innovative payment businesses to meet the increasingly diversified requirements for card use. Cardholders can not only use bankcards at ATMs and merchant POS terminals, but also pay utility bills, book air tickets and hotels, repay credit cards and transfer money, among others, via various emerging channels like Internet, mobile phone, fixed telephone, self-service terminal and digital TV. Under the joint efforts of UnionPay , commercial banks and other relevant institutions, a bankcard acceptance environment with broader scope, more fields and more channels is taking shape. It will meet the diversified requirements for card use of the Chinese people.
The Chinese government has paid close attention to UnionPay since its establishment. On January 16th, 2010, General Secretary of the CPC Central Committee, State President and CMC Chairman Hu Jintao made a special trip to visit UnionPay during his inspection tour in Shanghai, praising that UnionPay card independently developed by UnionPay promoted the development of bankcard industry and brought convenience to the mass people in our country, pointing out that bankcard industry was a promising industry and encouraging us to constantly expand our business fields, improve our service level, accelerate our internationalization process, and strive to establish “UnionPay” as one major bankcard brand worldwide. Premier Wen Jiabao has paid two visits to UnionPay. In his visit to UnionPay in May 2007, Premier Wen Jiabao highly appreciated the achievements obtained by UnionPay in the promotion of netted utilization, the construction of independent brand, the process of UnionPay internationalization and the innovation of bankcard payment. Premier Wen Jiabao also proposed the guidelines for the bankcard work under new circumstance: safety, unification, innovation and popularization.
As China grows stronger, it calls for a robust and independent bankcard industry, which entails concerted efforts made by the entire bankcard industry in China. UnionPay will, in line with the new requirements of the government, sufficiently exert its function as a card organization, and collaborate with commercial banks to maintain the discourse right and a dominant position in China’s bankcard industry, safeguard the economic and financial security of China, further promote the development of bankcard industry, as well as provide quality, safe and efficient bankcard service for the public. The ultimate goal of UnionPay is to become a bankcard association with national authority and trustworthiness as well as international competitiveness and influence, and to create an independent payment brand of China with global influence that serves China and more countries and regions.
Note: the bank card penetration as of the third quarter of 2010.