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China's UnionPay begins Australian expansion

By Tiffany Hoy (Xinhua)

14:05, May 29, 2013

SYDNEY, May 29 (Xinhua) -- China's UnionPay has begun an Australian expansion, aiming to help Chinese visitors and businesses more easily engage with Australian companies as trade flourishes between the two nations.

The Chinese international bank card network Wednesday launched partnerships with Australia's Commonwealth Bank, which reportedly has the second-largest presence of any foreign bank in China, and iconic Australian department store David Jones in Sydney.

"We have long been keen to expand our presence in Australia," said UnionPay Chairman Su Ning.

"In areas like ATM business, online payment, EFTPOS cards and mobile payment, we wish that we can help our partners to capture more opportunities from China's fast-growing economy," he added.

UnionPay cards can now be used to withdraw cash at almost 60 percent of ATMs in Australia, said Su, and several online merchants are offering UnionPay for internet transactions to cater to card holders' demand for Australian specialty goods.

NSW Deputy Premier and Minister for Trade and Investment Andrew Stoner said the introduction of Chinese-friendly payment services in Australia would enhance tourism and economic growth.

"With more than 3.5 billion China UnionPay cards in circulation across the globe, I'm confident that there will be immediate benefits -- not only for the Commonwealth Bank's 130,000 merchants who are now accepting UnionPay, but also for the tens of thousands of Chinese visitors who fly to NSW each and every month," Stoner said.

"We recognise the enormous potential that inbound tourism holds for economic and business growth here in NSW and indeed Australia. For inbound tourism in NSW alone, China has currently moved around 1.1 billion AUD a year."

"Between July 2011 and June 2012, visitors from China in NSW increased by more than 15 percent to 335,500. I think as the Australian dollar comes off its record highs, that growth will continue and possibly accelerate," he added.

The Commonwealth Bank will begin a rollout of acceptance of UnionPay cards from July 2013, meaning 3.5 billion cards will be accepted at over 170,000 point-of-sale terminals across Australia.

Business travelers, students and migrants from China will be able to use their UnionPay cards across the Commonwealth Bank network, one of the largest EFTPOS terminals in Australia, making it easier and safer to make purchases.

"Our partnership with UnionPay is further evidence of our commitment to supporting Australian businesses, providing customers with the ability to process a wider range of payment options and tap into a growing customer base," said Commonwealth Bank Group Executive, Institutional Banking and Markets, Ian Saines.

Recently-appointed Consul General of the People's Republic of China in Sydney Li Huaxin also expressed warm congratulations on the partnership, saying the deal would extend an invitation of welcome to potential Chinese visitors.

"Over the past years we have witnessed a boom in Sino- Australian relations. China is Australia's number one trading partner, the biggest export market and fourth in imports, and the second-largest source of travellers," said Li.

"Chinese tourists are keen to get shopping while traveling overseas, which makes China UnionPay a significant channel of sharing China's economic growth all over the world," he added.

David Jones, one of Australia's largest and oldest department stores, also Wednesday announced the launch of UnionPay acceptance in its stores, keen to capitalize on the growing number of Chinese visitors to Australia -- which currently includes more than 700, 000 UnionPay card holders every year.

David Jones CEO and Managing Director Paul Zahra said that customers continued to be the key to David Jones' success as the store celebrates its 175th year.

"Our success as a retailer lies in our ability to change and adapt according to what our customers and the market want," Zahra said.

"A focus of our future strategic direction is transforming David Jones into a world-class omni channel retailer, and the introduction of UnionPay is indicative of our ongoing goal to advance our technology offering," he added.

Zahra said that the partnership would position David Jones as the leading store for international travelers, as the first department chain to introduce access to UnionPay.

"We have long recognized that as retailers we are competing internationally and the ability to tap into the lucrative Chinese market, through both Chinese visitors to Australia and Chinese nationals residing temporarily in Australia, is a great strategic advantage for us," said Zahra.

The average transaction size processed on UnionPay cards is reported to be greater than any other international card, making it an attractive sales opportunity.

Card holders are also abundant around the globe -- every second new card issued around the world is reported to be a UnionPay card, and in the Asia Pacific the network provides 73 percent of all cards issued.

Wednesday's partnership announcements once again demonstrate Australia's commitment to capturing more opportunities with China in the Asian Century, as the Chinese economy continues to grow.

The NSW government says it has begun negotiations with China to make Sydney the first official offshore trading centre for the renminbi outside China, Taiwan and Singapore -- breaking down more barriers to trade in terms of currency.

UnionPay cards are currently used throughout 141 countries and regions around the world, as well as in China. The network will Thursday launch a dual AUD/renminbi currency debit card in Sydney.

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