European Acceptance of China UnionPay Cards Explodes in 2016
More than 600,000 merchants in Europe are accept UnionPay this year, and the newly-enabled merchants in Italy and Spain are over 100,000 respectively. So far, more than 2.2 million merchants in 39 European countries and regions accept UnionPay, taking up 50% of all the merchants supporting bankcard payment.
Since this September, UnionPay International has made several moves in Europe, and has inked acceptance agreements with many institutions, including Swedbank, the largest acquirer in Sweden, ICCREA, a major banking group in Italy, Česká spořitelna, the largest commercial bank in the Czech Republic, Unicre, the largest acquirer in Portugal, B+S and CardProcess, two major acquirers in Germany, and NGB, one of the four major banks in Greece.
UnionPay’s acceptance network in Europe is expanding rapidly. Now, almost all ATMs in Switzerland, Austria and Iceland accept UnionPay cards for cash withdrawal, and over 50% of merchants in Switzerland accept UnionPay cards for payment. In Italy, over 80% of ATMs and 50% of merchants accept UnionPay, and this coverage is expected to rise to 60% next year. In Spain, 80% of ATMs and 70% of merchants accept UnionPay. And all ATMs and merchants with POS terminals in Greece will accept UnionPay by the end of next year.
UnionPay is not only accepted at major department stores, duty-free stores and brand stores, but also at hotels, restaurants, historical and cultural sites, and entertainment establishments, for example at the bookstore and gift store of renowned museums of Louvre, Versailles, Orsay, Picasso, and Strasbourg Citrus Orchard. At the end of last month, Louvre Hotels Group inked a cooperation agreement with UnionPay International, enabling 23 Paris hotels most popular among Chinese tourists to accept UnionPay. It will enable all of its 200 self-operated hotels in France to accept UnionPay at the beginning of 2017. It will be the first large hotel group in France that has fully accepted UnionPay.
With the optimization of UnionPay’s acceptance environment and service system in Europe, UnionPay cards are frequently used in Europe not only by the visiting Chinese but also by more and more cardholders outside mainland China. According to the latest data, UnionPay cards issued in about 30 countries and regions are frequently used in the Europe this year. Europe has become one of the regions where cardholders from Hong Kong and Macau like to use UnionPay cards most, and the transaction volume of South Korea-issued UnionPay cards in Europe doubled.
In addition to offline acceptance, UnionPay is also accepted online, especially in the fields of transportation and education. Many European airlines, like Air France, Air Holland, Deutsche Lufthansa, Finnair, Ukraine International Airlines and Scandinavian Airlines, support online ticket booking with UnionPay cards. Independent travelers may also use UnionPay cards to purchase Eurail Pass online. More than 100 universities in the UK, France, Switzerland and Czech support online tuition payment with UnionPay cards. These universities include The University of Manchester, Imperial College London, University of Southampton, University of Zurich, etc.
According to the Annual Report of Chinese Outbound Tourism (2016) issued by China Tourism Academy, 11.5% of Chinese outbound tourists visited Europe in 2015, that is over 3.53 million, growing by 24% year-on-year.Following this trend, UnionPay International cooperated with Bank of China in issuing the first Travel Europe-themed UnionPay credit card. The European version of the Travel Mate. China UnionPay credit card integrates the resources of UnionPay International, Bank of China and merchants in Europe, and delivers more convenient and favorable card using experiences to tourists visiting Europe.
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