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Native name
银联 (Yínlián)
Company typeState-owned
IndustryFinancial services
Founded2002; 22 years ago (2002)
HeadquartersPudong, Shanghai, China
Area served
Key people
Shi Wenchao (President)
ProductsPayment systems
Credit cards
Number of employees
559 (UnionPay International)
Countries where the UnionPay payment system operates

UnionPay (Chinese: 银联; pinyin: Yínlián), also known as China UnionPay (Chinese: 中国银联; pinyin: Zhōngguó Yínlián) or by its abbreviation, CUP or UPI internationally, is a Chinese state-owned financial services corporation headquartered in Shanghai, China. It provides bank card services and a major card scheme in mainland China. Founded on 26 March 2002, China UnionPay is an association for China's banking card industry, operating under the approval of the People's Bank of China (PBOC, central bank of China).[1] It is also an electronic funds transfer at point of sale (EFTPOS) network, and the only interbank network in China that links all the automatic teller machine (ATMs) of all banks throughout the country. UnionPay cards can be used in 181 countries and regions around the world.[2]

In 2015, the UnionPay overtook Visa and Mastercard in total value of payments made by customers and became the largest card payment processing organization (debit and credit cards combined) in the world surpassing the two. However, only 0.5% of this payment volume was outside of China.[3]

UnionPay offers mobile and online payments services.[4][5]


UnionPay decal on the door of a dining hall in Chiba, Japan

With the approval of the People's Bank of China (PBOC), China UnionPay was launched on 26 March 2002, in Shanghai by PBOC governor Dai Xianglong, The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, the Agricultural Bank of China, the Bank of China and the China Construction Bank served as its first members.[6] However, the concept of a unified Chinese bank card network dates back to 1993, with the formation of the "Golden Card Project" advocated by then-Chinese leader Jiang Zemin. UnionPay is considered its descendant, although attempts at unifying China's various credit card and interbank networks have been in place since the 1990s.[7]

In 2014, UnionPay was reported to have been contributing to capital flight from China through poorly regulated store front operations in Macau.[8] The same year, the total amount of cross-bank transactions of CUP card exceeded 41.1 trillion yuan.[9] As part of Xi Jinping's anti-corruption campaign, central government officials met with local officials in Macau and reached an agreement in December 2014 that allows the central economic crimes bureau to have real-time access to all transactions in Macau involving UnionPay cards.[10]: 207 



In 2005, UnionPay entered into agreements with other payment networks to increase acceptance around the world. Some major examples include:

Use outside of China : Europe


UnionPay announced in 2016 that more than 2.2 million merchants in 39 European countries and regions accept UnionPay, taking up 50% of all the merchants supporting bankcard payment.[12][13] Merchants from all sectors can integrate UnionPay and accept payments from their clients online or in-store. UnionPay is accepted at major department stores, airlines, duty-free stores and fashion stores, hotels, restaurants, historical and cultural sites, and entertainment establishments, such as bookstores and gift stores of le Louvre museum, Versailles, Orsay, Picasso, and Strasbourg Citrus Orchard. UnionPay is also accepted at business schools and Universities in order to allow Asian students to pay large sums of money for their tuition fees.[14]

Merchants from certain sectors considered "High risk" or prohibited by the government cannot open a UnionPay account.[citation needed]

Process for merchants accepting UnionPay in Europe

Accepting UnionPay in Europe requires a third-party banking service.[15] UnionPay tries to significantly multiply its partnerships to expand UnionPay's acceptance scope in Europe.

A European merchant can open a UnionPay account and start accepting payments through payment gateways which is licensed in the country of the merchant. Licensed payment gateways in Eurozone countries are :

Use outside of China: rest of the world


Some UnionPay credit cards are also affiliated with American Express (AmEx), MasterCard, or Visa, and they can be used abroad as American Express, MasterCard, or Visa credit cards. UnionPay debit cards, however, can only be used in the UnionPay network and other networks that have signed contracts with UnionPay. Since 2006, China UnionPay cards can be used in over 100 countries outside China.[16]

In May 2005, Discover Network announced an alliance with China UnionPay Network. The two companies have signed a long-term agreement that allows acceptance of Discover Network brand cards at UnionPay ATMs and point-of-sale terminals in China and acceptance of China UnionPay cards on the PULSE network in the U.S.[17] As of 1 November 2007, China UnionPay cards may be accepted where Discover Network Cards are accepted in the United States, Canada, Mexico, Central America, and the Caribbean.[18] As of early 2013, the cross acceptance agreement was expanded to support e-commerce or card-not-present transactions.[citation needed] In March 2010, PayPal announced a partnership with China UnionPay enabling the use of PayPal with UnionPay member cards.[19] In 2015, China's State Administration of Foreign Exchange (SAFE) placed a ¥100,000 annual cap on overseas cash withdrawals from Chinese banks-issued UnionPay accounts.[20] In November 2017, Azoya teamed up with UnionPay to enable consumers in China to profit from the Black Friday online shopping festival via a cross-border marketing platform.[21]

2022 Russian invasion of Ukraine


On 6 March 2022, Sberbank, Alfa Bank and Tinkoff Bank reported several Russian banks would switch to UnionPay after Visa and Mastercard said they would suspend operations in Russia due to Russia's invasion of Ukraine.[22] The Russian banks intend to tie the UnionPay system with Russia's Mir network.[23]

On 20 April 2022, UnionPay reportedly discontinued cooperation with major Russian banks including Sberbank. Russian media outlet RBC stated that they did so out of fear of secondary sanctions.[24]

In August 2022, it was reported that Russian visitors to Finland were circumventing banking restrictions by withdrawing Euros from Finnish cash machines using UnionPay cards.[25]



UnionPay is the primary network of these Chinese banks:[citation needed]

Other UnionPay-affiliated organisations include municipal commercial banks as well as rural credit cooperatives. Overall, there are 165 financial institutions that issue UnionPay cards.[citation needed]

UnionPay had partnered with JETCO in Hong Kong and Macau until 1 January 2006. As of January 2013, Bank of East Asia and Citibank were the only banks allowed to independently issue UnionPay credit cards in Hong Kong and the mainland. HSBC and its subsidiary Hang Seng Bank independently issue UnionPay credit cards in Hong Kong,[when?] while they issue cards in the mainland in cooperation with local banks as noted above. Deutsche Bank only has co-issued cards, with no independently issued UnionPay credit cards.

The following eleven foreign banks have the right to issue UnionPay debit cards in China:

UnionPay in other countries:

See also



  1. ^ "Introduction - UnionPay International". www.unionpayintl.com. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  2. ^ "Introduction_UnionPay International". www.unionpayintl.com.
  3. ^ "UnionPay takes top spot from Visa in $22 trillion global cards market – RBR". Finextra. London: Finextra Research Limited. 22 July 2016.
  4. ^ "UnionPay takes top spot from Visa in $22 trillion global cards market - RBR". Finextra Research. 22 July 2016.
  5. ^ "UnionPay offers secure and convenient payment service for Chinese students studying abroad". www.unionpayintl.com.
  6. ^ Dai Xianglong (26 March 2002). "Remarks by Mr. Dai Xianglong, Governor of the PBC at the Opening Ceremony of China Unionpay". People's Bank of China. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  7. ^ Pomfret, James (11 March 2014). "Special Report: How China's official bank card is used to smuggle money". www.reuters.com. Thomson Reuters. Retrieved 11 March 2014.
  8. ^ Yip, Amy. "WILL CHINA UNIONPAY EXPAND FROM A DOMESTIC MONOPOLY TO A GLOBAL PLAYER?" (PDF). centennialcollege.hku.hk. p. 5. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  9. ^ Simpson, Tim (2023). Betting on Macau: Casino Capitalism and China's Consumer Revolution. Globalization and Community series. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press. ISBN 978-1-5179-0031-1.
  10. ^ https://investorrelations.discover.com/newsroom/press-releases/press-release-details/2005/China-Unionpay-And-Discover-Financial-Services-Launch-Partnership-Opening-DiscoverS-PULSE-Network-To-Chinese-Travelers/default.aspx
  11. ^ "2.2 Million Merchants in Europe Accept UnionPay". www.unionpayintl.com. Unionpay Intl. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  12. ^ "The largest hotels group in Europe accepts UnionPay". www.unionpayintl.com. Unionpay Intl. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  13. ^ "About 4,000 Educational Institutions Outside Mainland China Accept UnionPay Cards for Tuition Payment". www.asiaone.com. Asia One. 5 July 2018. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  14. ^ "How to accept UnionPay in Europe?". Silkpay. Retrieved 26 September 2022.
  15. ^ "China UnionPay extends coverage globally". Xinhua news agency. 2 February 2006. Archived from the original on 7 October 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  16. ^ "China UnionPay accepted in U.S. on Discover/Pulse networks". People's Bank of China. 6 December 2005. Archived from the original on 16 March 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  17. ^ "Big Database of Credit Offers: Cards Accepted in the United States". wistex. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  18. ^ "PayPal and China UnionPay Open the Global Marketplace to Chinese Consumers". paypal.com. 23 March 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
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  20. ^ Zaczkiewicz, Arthur (22 November 2017). "Azoya Teams With UnionPay to Help International Retailers Leverage Black Friday Sales". WWD. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  21. ^ "Russian banks mull China UnionPay; big accounting firms exit". ABC News. 2022. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  22. ^ "Russian banks rush to switch to Chinese card system". Reuters. 6 March 2022. Archived from the original on 7 March 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2022.{{cite news}}: CS1 maint: bot: original URL status unknown (link)
  23. ^ Wilde, Crystal. "Why Chinese bankcard chips may not ease Putin's economic pain". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  24. ^ "Itärajan pankkiautomaatit tyhjenevät nyt ennätysvauhtia – venäläisturistit löysivät keinon nostaa euroja Suomessa pakotteista huolimatta" [Eastern Finland cash machines emptying at record speed - Russian tourists found a way to withdraw Euros despite sanctions] (in Finnish). Yle. 26 August 2022. Retrieved 26 August 2022.
  25. ^ Myat, Aye (24 January 2016). "AGD Bank, MPU Launch First Co-branded UnionPay Debit Card in Myanmar". mmbiztoday.com. Archived from the original on 14 November 2018. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  26. ^ "Askari Bank, Askari Bank proudly introduces Pakistan's first EMV & NFC enabled UnionPay Debit Card". askaribank.com. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  27. ^ "Load&Go China card - Australia Post". auspost.com.au. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  28. ^ "BAIDURI UNIONPAY DEBIT CARD". baiduri.com. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
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  33. ^ "银联国际-云闪付App专题页".
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  43. ^ "Yi An". yianpay.es. Retrieved 9 February 2023.