China UnionPay to offer virtual corporate cards in Europe

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In a continued effort to expand beyond China's borders, China UnionPay will reportedly work with a U.K. company to issue issuing virtual corporate cards next month in Europe.

China UnionPay will work with an unnamed U.K. company to begin issuing virtual prepaid cards for British corporate clients for use via a mobile wallet when traveling in Asia, according to a story in the Financial Times. Most recently China UnionPay has been working with the state-owned Bank of China to build a national mobile payment app. The company, which claims to have more than 7 billion cards, is seeking to establish itself as a rival card network similar to Visa and Mastercard.

In comparison, Visa has only 3.1 billion payment cards issued. China UnionPay is accepted in 170 countries, including almost all European nations, and is issued in 48 countries.

While the initial target of the U.K. launch is to cater to corporate clients traveling to Asia, China UnionPay has plans to focus on domestic European issuance for local use, according to the article.

The challenge for China UnionPay is that it is under heavy competition in its home market from two large mobile wallet providers, Ant Financial’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings’ WeChat Pay. While China UnionPay has a virtual monopoly in on payment cards in China, it is being pressured as Chinese consumer are increasingly using mobile payments to purchase goods and services at retail point of sale, in addition to conducting e-commerce.

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Credit cards Online payments B-to-B payments China UnionPay Europe China
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