China UnionPay Establishes Commanding Presence in South-east Asia’s Digital Payments Market


Payments giant China UnionPay is making bold forays into the digital payment sectors of multiple countries throughout South-east Asia.

China UnionPay subsidiary UnionPay International has just announced the execution of a cooperative agreement with a financial institution in Vietnam that will see the issuance of 600,000 UnionPay virtual cards in the country, supporting online card applications as well as QR code payments.

The move comes just after UnionPay International signed an agreement with Filipino bank Cebuana Lhuillier to issue 6 million UnionPay cards in the Phillipines during the two year period from 2021 to 2022. 90% of automatic teller machines and more than 70% of vendors in the Phillipines are already capable of accepting UnionPay cards.

UnionPay cards currently have a coverage ratio of 80% in the ten member states of ASEAN, while out of 6 million UnionPay virtual cards issued in 2020 approximately 3.5 million were dispensed to South-east Asian consumers.

UnionPay International is also pursuing tech partnerships with South-east Asian financial institutions, executing an agreement with Cambodian third party payments platform Mpay in January 2021 to work with local banks on the issuance of contact-free prepaid cards and the provisions of QR code payments services, and working with Vietnam’s Vietnam Bank to issue UnionPay cards that support tap and flash payments.

In the Philippines and Thailand China UnionPay has supported efforts to create local bank card transfer networks, while UnionPay’s bank chip card standards have become the recommended standards for the markets of Thailand and Myanmar.

In November 2019 UnionPay International and the Laos central bank established a joint-venture company to operate the bank card payments system for the country’s state-owned banking system, and provide technical support for cross-bank account transfers, online transactions and mobile payments.