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IndustryBanking, Finance
Founded26 March 2002; 20 years ago (2002-03-26)
HeadquartersPudong, ,

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 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 180 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.[3] However, only 0.5% of this payment volume was outside of China.

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]

Global alliance[edit]

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

Use outside of China[edit]

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.[9]

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.[10] 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.[11] 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.[12] 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.[13] 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.[14]

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.[15] The Russian banks intend to tie the UnionPay system with Russia's Mir network.[16]

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.[17]


Quick Pass Logo

On the introduction of EMV chips into China UnionPay cards,[18] banks also introduced QuickPass (Chinese: 闪付; pinyin: Shǎnfù), a contactless smart card feature similar to MasterCard's PayPass or Visa's payWave. QuickPass is accepted in many supermarkets and fast food stores. The QuickPass technology is implemented in UnionPay's own app Cloud QuickPass (Chinese: 云闪付; pinyin: Yúnshǎnfù), and it is also supported by several digital wallet providers such as Samsung Pay, Apple Pay, and Huawei Pay.[19]

Online payments[edit]

UnionPay is China's first financial-level pre-authorization service for secured transactions. The system allows payment for online shopping at any merchant that accepts UnionPay. In 2014, the total amount of cross-bank transactions of CUP card exceeded 41.1 trillion yuan.[20]


UnionPay is the primary network of these Chinese banks:

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[edit]


  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. ^ "China UnionPay extends coverage globally". Xinhua news agency. 2 February 2006. Archived from the original on 7 October 2007. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  9. ^ "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.
  10. ^ "Big Database of Credit Offers: Cards Accepted in the United States". wistex. Archived from the original on 7 February 2009. Retrieved 27 September 2009.
  11. ^ "PayPal and China UnionPay Open the Global Marketplace to Chinese Consumers". paypal.com. 23 March 2010. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  12. ^ "China's SAFE slaps 100,000 yuan annual cap on overseas UnionPay cash withdrawals". South China Morning Post. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  13. ^ Zaczkiewicz, Arthur (22 November 2017). "Azoya Teams With UnionPay to Help International Retailers Leverage Black Friday Sales". WWD. Retrieved 23 November 2017.
  14. ^ "Russian banks mull China UnionPay; big accounting firms exit". ABC News. 2022. Retrieved 8 March 2022.
  15. ^ "Russian banks rush to switch to Chinese card system". Reuters. 6 March 2022. Retrieved 6 March 2022. Archived.
  16. ^ Wilde, Crystal. "Why Chinese bankcard chips may not ease Putin's economic pain". www.aljazeera.com. Retrieved 21 April 2022.
  17. ^ "EMVCo Members". EMVCo. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  18. ^ "Apple & China UnionPay to Bring Apple Pay to China". Apple Newsroom. Retrieved 19 April 2018.
  19. ^ Yip, Amy. "WILL CHINA UNIONPAY EXPAND FROM A DOMESTIC MONOPOLY TO A GLOBAL PLAYER?" (PDF). centennialcollege.hku.hk. p. 5. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  20. ^ Myat, Aye (24 January 2016). "AGD Bank, MPU Launch First Co-branded UnionPay Debit Card in Myanmar". mmbiztoday.com. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  21. ^ "Askari Bank, Askari Bank proudly introduces Pakistan's first EMV & NFC enabled UnionPay Debit Card". askaribank.com. Retrieved 19 August 2020.
  22. ^ "Load&Go China card - Australia Post". auspost.com.au. Retrieved 10 June 2019.
  23. ^ "BAIDURI UNIONPAY DEBIT CARD". baiduri.com. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  24. ^ "Bangkok Bank UnionPay Credit Card". bangkokbank.com. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  25. ^ "BCEL UnionPay Cards". bcel.com.la. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  26. ^ "Sinarmas, UnionPay teaming up". thejakartapost.com. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  27. ^ "BDO Diamond UnionPay". bdo.com. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  28. ^ "UnionPay CIM worldwide cards". Retrieved 27 October 2021.
  29. ^ "DBS, UnionPay launch debit card to help visitors to China". The Straits Times. 17 May 2016. Retrieved 22 August 2016.
  30. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r s t u v "UnionPay International Homepage-Global Union Pay Card". unionpayintl.com/en. Retrieved 13 November 2018.
  31. ^ "1Link - PayPak". 1link.net.pk. Retrieved 23 July 2019.
  32. ^ "Tarjeta Union Pay". www.credicorpbank.com (in European Spanish). Retrieved 16 March 2022.

External links[edit]