UnionPay, headquartered in Shanghai, China, is a financial services corporation that operates the largest card payment organization in the world by the number of cards issued. Established in 2002, UnionPay was created to introduce a national bank card network in China, offering an alternative to other global card payment networks such as Visa, MasterCard, and American Express. Since its inception, UnionPay has experienced rapid growth, not just within China but also across the globe, expanding its presence to over 160 countries and regions.

The issuance volume of UnionPay cards in both China and the rest of the world has been increasing annually. In just four years since its inception, over 4 billion cards were issued. Furthermore, in the previous year, cardholders had the flexibility to transact in ten major world currencies, including euros, dollars, and pounds sterling.

By 2015, 41% of the world’s plastic cards were under the UnionPay payment system. Although it became the largest payment system back in 2010, its dominance was not so much due to its presence in foreign markets but rather its active distribution in densely populated Asian countries. In 2016, UnionPay surpassed Mastercard/Visa in transaction volume.

Features and Benefits

UnionPay stands as a testament to the growing financial clout and globalization of the Chinese financial system. As it continues to expand, more and more individuals and merchants will benefit from its vast network and versatile services. There is a lift of main highlights of the platform:

  • Universal Recognition: UnionPay cards find acceptance at countless merchants and cashpoints globally, assuring card users of its widespread usability.
  • Adaptability: UnionPay presents an extensive array of card types – be it credit, debit, or prepaid, addressing varied user preferences.
  • Safe Dealings: Boasting contemporary safety measures, like the chip & PIN mechanism, UnionPay ensures that every transaction remains both protected and user-friendly.
  • Digital Payments: Aligning with the growing trend of mobile-based payments, UnionPay’s QuickPass facilitates touch-free transactions, accelerating the payment process.
  • Transnational Features: UnionPay rolls out several utilities for transactions crossing borders, designed especially for globe-trotters, inclusive of competitive currency conversion rates.
  • Regional Incentives: In many Asian locales, merchants put forth unique deals and markdowns solely for UnionPay card users.
  • Comprehensive Financial Offerings: UnionPay extends its expertise beyond card-based solutions, venturing into realms like online banking, mobile monetary solutions, business lending, and more, broadening its spectrum of financial tools.

How to Join

For individuals or businesses looking to join the UnionPay network, here’s a step-by-step guide:

For Individual Cardholders:

  • Select a UnionPay Issuer: Many banks and financial institutions globally offer UnionPay cards. Choose one based on your location and preferences.
  • Apply for a Card: Visit the local bank branch or apply online. You’ll need to provide necessary documentation and meet the eligibility criteria.
  • Activate Your Card: Once approved and received, activate your card following the issuer’s instructions.
  • Enjoy Global Services: With your UnionPay card, you can now enjoy a host of services globally.

For Merchants:

  • Contact a UnionPay Merchant Acquirer: To start accepting UnionPay cards, you need to work with a merchant acquirer that’s partnered with UnionPay.
  • Integration & Setup: Depending on your business model – whether it’s brick-and-mortar or online – the acquirer will guide you through the integration process.
  • Training & Resources: Ensure your staff is familiar with UnionPay transactions. UnionPay often provides training and promotional resources to boost awareness.
  • Start Accepting Payments: With everything set up, you can now accept payments from a vast global clientele.

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