Throwback Thursday: Chinese payment giant UnionPay

UnionPay is one of the largest card payment organizations worldwide


Throwback Thursday: Chinese payment giant UnionPay. Source:

What pops into your head when you hear something like “payment system”, or “bank card service”? Let us guess, it may be Visa, Mastercard, or even AmEx. However, neither Visa nor Mastercard, are the biggest payment systems in the world. China UnionPay is considered to be the largest one since it has the highest number of cards and the total amount of operations. So, what do we know about this financial corporation? Let’s find out what it is, and what it offers today.

What is UnionPay?

China UnionPay is not the only one, but one of the most famous Chinese payment systems worldwide. UnionPay has maintained its representation in no less than one hundred and fifty-seven countries and has a network of more than 1 million ATMs. UnionPay users are able to pay for goods and services quickly and conveniently. Most often, people use UnionPay to obtain cash from ATMs or order goods/services from Chinese online stores.

When it was launched

The corporation was founded in 2002. The State Council of the People’s Republic of China initiated the foundation of a national payment system, and the People’s Bank of China provided full support for the ambitious project.


The State Council of the People’s Republic of China initiated the foundation of a national payment system. Source:

Today, UnionPay merges over three hundred financial institutions worldwide, and the plastic cards of the system are serviced at more than 1 million ATMs.

UnionPay holds the record for the number of plastic cards in circulation – according to official estimates, there are more than 4 billion plastic UnionPay cards. Moreover, in 2015, the Chinese payment system managed to outdo one of the unquestioned “untouchable” leaders VISA, ranking first in the total number of operations.

What does it offer?

Using UnionPay accounts or cards, participants in the system are offered the possibility to:

  • pay for purchases and orders, being in one of a hundred and fifty-seven countries;
  • pay for purchases and orders 24/7 from home, work, and any other places;
  • use convenient services, such as “Cross-border Remittance”, “Global Assistance”, “UnionPay Card Emergency Service”, and many others;
  • cash funds through one of more than 1M ATMs worldwide.

UnionPay offers cash funds through one of more than 1 million ATMs worldwide. Source:


UnionPay has different fees, and the rate of the fee depends on the type of operation, type of card, the issuing bank, and the country you carry out a transaction in:

  • a cardholder will be charged around $0.50, if we are talking about cashless transfers. However, it depends on many factors, such as the type of card, the issuing bank, and many others;
  • a cardholder will be charged 1.75% (of the amount of the transaction) if they withdraw cash through an ATM.

The ATM commission fee consists of two separate fees:

  1. Service fee charged by the issuer (depends on the issuer, so it is better to contact them for more details);
  2. Service fee charged by the ATM acquirer in the country where you withdraw funds. Some ATMs can charge fees, which are charged by the local banks. These fees should not be confused with those of both UnionPay and the issuer.

Cash withdrawal via debit card results in a lower commission fee.


No conversion fee is applied to payments or cash withdrawals made by UnionPay cards or via UnionPay’s network. The transaction value in local currency will be directly converted to RMB based on the market exchange rate.

UnionPay International


It is powerful, modern, international system of global scale. Source:

UnionPay International (UPI) is a subsidiary of Chinese UnionPay payment system and is focused on the growth and support of UnionPay’s global business outside of China. It is powerful, modern, international system of global scale.

UnionPay works with only 10 world currencies:

  • CNY — Renminbi
  • EUR — Euro
  • GBP — the UK pound sterling
  • HKD — Hong Kong dollar
  • JPY — Japanese yen
  • MOP — Macanese pataca
  • NZD — New Zealand dollar
  • SGD — Singapore dollar
  • THB — Thai baht
  • USD — the US dollar

Why people choose UnionPay as the payment system

  • issuing of UnionPay card is easy and simple;
  • wide acceptance of these cards worldwide;
  • modern top-notch security features (advanced technologies, long PIN, and others);
  • it is easy to pay for items and services online.

Services and benefits:

  • UnionPay Card Emergency Service – cardholders may apply to emergency customer services if they are experiencing an emergency such as a lost or stolen card, ora  malfunction;
  • Cross-border Remittances. MoneyExpress is a cross-border remittance service, which helps individuals outside Mainland China make international remittances to UnionPay cards;
  • UnionPay Tax Refund;
  • Study Abroad Service;
  • Global Assistance Service (VIP only) – a full range of exclusive privileges including overseas travel assistance, medical assistance, VIP medical & healthcare service, high-end travel insurance, 24-hour concierge service, etc;
  • Global Travel Service (VIP only) – VIP lounge service worldwide;
  • Global Concierge  (Premium card only);
  • Chinese Visa Application Express (for UnionPay Cardholders in Australia, Singapore, and South Korea);
  • UnionPay VIP Lounges.


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