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China Unionpay expands foreign currency bank card business (11/08/03)

China Unionpay Co., Ltd. (CUP) has announced that by the end of mid-October this year, some 60 bank branches across the country had connected to its bank card network to accept foreign currency bank cards.

The 60 branches from 24 commercial banks are located in the country's 15 large cities, like Guangzhou and Xiamen in south China's provinces of Guangdong and Fujian.

The company started to provide services for member financial institutions on foreign currency bank card transactions in June 2002, when it joined the Visa International and Mastercard International, the two major international payment systems.

It is engaged in talks with more international and regional card organizations on future cooperation.

Estimates had put the foreign exchange revenue from foreign travelers at 20.4 billion US dollars in 2002, but the money spent through foreign currency bank cards was only 10.8 percent of the figure, or about 2.2 billion dollars.

"Much more has yet to be done to improve China's foreign currency bank card transaction environment." said CUP's president Wan Jianhua.

"Foreign currency bank card service will enjoy rapid development and growing demand," noted Wan. "As forex revenue frominbound tourism will grow apace to nearly 60 billion dollars in 2008."

Over 1,200 businesses in the country are now using the service,with over 2,000 POS machines and 3,000 ATMs nationwide connected to the company's network.

The Shanghai-based CUP is a shareholding financial institutionestablished through capital contributions by over 80 domestic financial institutions in March, 2002. Nearly 30,000 deals with 230 million yuan (27.71 million dollars) in total had been concluded through its network by the end of August this year.


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