28 °C Accra, GH
January 18, 2020


Standard Bank says its new deal with Chinese card payments company UnionPay International will open China’s e-commerce marketplace for the bank’s customers in twenty African countries.

The bank says the agreement to accept UnionPay cards in African markets by the end of 2018 provides Africans with direct access to China’s highly developed electronic and mobile transaction platforms.

Lincoln Mali, Group Head for Group Cards & Emerging Payments at Standard Bank says African traders will soon be able to locate and select goods remotely and then pay for them electronically through their Standard Bank cards.

“The combination of Standard Bank’s existing relationship with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China and now also UnionPay International is likely, in time, to obviate the need for Africans to travel to China at all. (They will be able carry out transactions) from desks, laptops and phones in Africa – without having to move physical cash, convert currency or travel to China,” said Mali.

George Lo, Executive Head: Pan Africa ChinaBanking at Standard Bank says that while the Bank’s African customers will be able to save money by no longer having to travel to China, if they do end up going there the UnionPay agreement means that they will also be able to swipe their cards to pay in China.

“African entrepreneurs and importers of Chinese goods and services have, traditionally, had to travel to China carrying foreign currency in cash for conversion into renminbi. They will soon be able to purchase goods directly from suppliers throughout China at the swipe of a card,” Lo adds.

From a Chinese perspective, Standard Bank says travelling, operating and transacting in Africa’s multi-jurisdictional and multi-currency landscapes will also become dramatically easier for Chinese UnionPay users. “At the swipe of a card at any Standard Bank hosted point of sale – or through simple internet banking – the need for Chinese business people or tourists to carry physical cash or convert and transfer foreign currency falls away,” he continues.

Larry Wang, Vice President of UnionPay International says his company is excited to be working with Standard Bank because it will provide UnionPay with an unrivalled platform and unmatched reach across Africa.

“UnionPay strives to ensure convenient and safe payment services to a growing number of global UnionPay cardholders visiting Africa, an increasingly important business and leisure destination. We also look forward to collaborating with Standard Bank in card issuance – providing exciting new payment options for new African customers.”

FinTech a growing sector

Transaction data released by UnionPay this morning shows that its transaction volume grew by 28.8% year-on-year to US$14.95 trillion. The company says this growth is thanks in large part to its mobile payment services such as mobile QuickPass and QR code payment which are growing in popularity in addition to the UnionPay app.

UnionPay collaborated with commercial banks in China last year to launch the UnionPay QR code payment and then entered into more partnerships with industry partners to launch the UnionPay mobile app.

Khalid Elgibaly, President of Middle East & North Africa at UnionPay’s global rival MasterCard affirmed the view that digital financial technologies are on a growth trajectory in his address during the Seamless North Africa conference in Cairo today.

“Globally, FinTech funding has increased extremely quickly, crossing $80bn in 2017, with payments, lending and Blockchain solutions taking the lead.”

Mastercard’s President and CEO Ajay Banga announced the company’s collaboration with Durban-based tech company Spazapp in November last year. He described the partnership with Spazapp as a combination of expertise in order to bring mobile payments to informal traders and convenience stores, better known as spaza shops, across South Africa.

By Matshelane Mamabolo

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