China Unionpay recently signed an acceptance agreement with Dubai-based Network International LLC, the largest payment acquirer in the United Arab Emirates.

With the deal, China UnionPay plans to expand the acceptance of its debit and credit cards to Western Asia, the Middle East and Africa, benefiting the growing number of Chinese tourists and businessmen traveling to the region, the issuer noted in a statement issued last week.

The expanded acceptance of Unionpay cards will start in the United Arab Emirates, Network International spokesperson Sana Lababidi tells PaymentsSource.

“China UnionPay cards will be first accepted in the [United Arab Emirates] and Egypt,” she says, noting no specific date was set for the expanded acceptance.

UnionPay cardholders will be able to use both credit and debit cards at more than 35,000 point-of-sale terminals in the United Arab Emirates with this deal, she says. ATM services, however, are not included in the agreement.

According to Lababidi, Network International’s network covers some 30 countries in Western Asia and Africa, including Gulf Cooperation Council countries such as Saudi Arabia, Kuwait and Bahrain, the Republic of Yemen and Iraq.

China UnionPay has been working to expand acceptance of its cards outside of China for the past five years (see story).  POS terminals in 90 countries and regions in the world now accept Unionpay cards.

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