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China UnionPay Launches Project Excellence in Line with PBOC Payment’s Market Roadmap

Payment preferences in China are evolving. However, some hurdles remain in payment services’ infrastructure which is stopping the payments market from achieving its full potential in the region. Providing a solution to overcome this, financial institution China UnionPay, has launched Project Excellence 2024.

Project Excellence 2024 by China UnionPay will look to improve payment convenience for senior citizens and international visitors to China. This is in line with the State Council’s recently announced guidelines to optimise payments in the region. The government’s efforts to improve the payment industry are demonstrated with the release of these guidelines, as they serve as a roadmap for the future growth of the industry.

Looking to play its part in creating an inclusive and convenient payments environment, China UnionPay officially launched its campaign at a ceremony held in Shanghai. Titled, Explore China Your Way with UnionPay: China UnionPay Payment Service Optimization – Project Excellence 2024, the ceremony was attended by Zhang Qingsong, member of the CPC People’s Bank of China (PBOC) Committee and deputy governor of the PBOC, and Xie Dong, Vice Mayor of Shanghai. 

Other notable attendees included:

  • Wang Ping, Deputy Secretary-General of Shanghai Municipal People’s Government
  • Jin Penghui and Liu Xingya, deputy directors of the Shanghai Head Office of the PBOC
  • Wang Sheng, deputy director-general of the PBOC Payment and Settlement Department
Project Excellence 2024

China UnionPay will take the lead on Project Excellence as it will be joined and co-funded by other industry participants. It will direct CNY 3 billion to focus on acceptance terminal upgrades, signage placement and publicity, etc. in key cities and use cases. At the same time, led by government authorities in specific sectors, UnionPay will encourage other industry players to pool their resources.

The efforts will cover 41 key cities nationwide and 26 high-frequency use cases in eight major categories including:

  • F&B
  • Accommodation
  • Transportation
  • Sightseeing
  • Shopping
  • Entertainment
  • Healthcare
  • Education

By providing comprehensive payment solutions that include cards, QR codes, OEM pay products, and cash withdrawal, the undertaking will drive parallel while complementary development of mobile, card and cash payments.

Project Excellence 2024 will start in Shanghai with marketing campaigns throughout the year under the theme ‘Explore China Your Way with UnionPay’. It also aims to provide more discounts and options as well as a better experience.

Optimising consumer and business experiences

During the event, Zhang Qingsong, deputy governor of the PBOC, stated that the rapid development and accelerated penetration of mobile payment in China in recent years have been pivotal in reducing transaction costs and promoting financial inclusion. However, new challenges have also emerged. For example, the digital divide for the elderly population and barriers for international visitors to China.

To implement the decision and arrangements by the central government, the PBOC has swiftly set up a dedicated working group to put in place a series of measures in line with the State Council guidelines. He acknowledges China UnionPay’s quick action to pool resources with other parties, and encourages all entities to strengthen synergy and provide the resources necessary to achieve substantial results in making payments more convenient.

Shanghai, as one of the main destinations for inbound travellers, has gained valuable experience in supporting the China International Import Expo (CIIE). Zhang Qingsong hopes that the city can continue to set a good example in effectively implementing more measures aiming at increasing payment convenience.

The PBOC will work with relevant parties, further develop payment use cases, and coordinate efforts to address any shortcomings and weaknesses. It will make payment services more heart-warming and broadly covering so as to contribute to China’s high-standard opening up, an optimised business environment in China, as well as greater happiness and sense of gain of the people.

Making everyone feel welcomed in China

Xie Dong, Vice Mayor of Shanghai, said that payment is the foundation of the economy and finance, and plays a crucial role in facilitating people’s lives, optimizing the business environment, and building a thriving consumer market.

The PBOC has guided all parties in the payment industry to establish a multi-layered and broadly-covering acceptance network. Consequently, this will enable China to become a global leader in payment services.

Shanghai is the largest clearing center in the world for card-based transactions, where China UnionPay has attracted numerous businesses upstream and downstream of the industry chain to form a cluster. As the city receives a large number of international visitors each year and is also one of the first in China to enter an era of aging society, choosing Shanghai as the first stop for Project Excellence 2024 holds special significance.

Furthermore, Xie Dong believes that Project Excellence can enable senior citizens and international travellers among others to feel accepted and welcomed. As a result, this will make payment services in Shanghai more accommodating.

The Shanghai municipal government will fully support the Project, and it stands ready to work with all parties including the PBOC to implement the requirements listed in the State Council guidelines, aiming to develop the Shanghai Solution that bridges the digital divide and improves the multi-layered as well as diversified payment service system.

Together, all parties can contribute to business environment optimisation and high-quality social and economic development.

Connecting different parts of the industry

Mr. Dong Junfeng from China UnionPay pointed out that payment service optimisation is a national policy and a shared responsibility of all industry participants. Also, China UnionPay has been implementing the strategic decisions by the central government and the work arrangements of the PBOC by fulfilling its pivotal role as a card scheme.

He hopes that through Project Excellence 2024, China UnionPay can inspire other industry stakeholders to contribute their resources, promote the parallel and complementary development of card, mobile and cash payments, and respect and support customers’ rights to choose payment tools.

Project Excellence 2024 is a major initiative that connects different links of the payment industry and a systematic one that calls for consensus and coordination across the payment industry in geographies both in and outside China. Under the leadership of the PBOC and local governments, China UnionPay will also team up with banks, China UMS, and acquirers in and outside China’s mainland, and strive for extensive availability of full solutions in all use cases across China.

Furthermore, UnionPay will enhance collaboration with banks and payment institutions, expedite payment code interoperability, strengthen partnerships with Chinese clearing institutions, and further engage in consultations with other international card schemes to jointly establish a convenient, open and inclusive payment ecosystem. Ultimately, UnionPay products will be easy to use in every use case, offering a superior experience, more options, and higher value for the elderly and international visitors to China.

At the ceremony and beyond

During the ceremony, China UnionPay released 29 business achievements, covering international card issuance, overseas e-wallets, and acceptance in China. Among these were agreements signed with partners from the Philippines, Australia, and Pakistan to issue three million UnionPay cards.

Ten major wallets, including AEON in Hong Kong SAR, OCBC in Singapore, and the LPB e-wallet in Vietnam, now support UnionPay QR payments. These are estimated to cover 60 million potential customers. More than 10 well-known online and physical merchants, including Meituan, Trip.com, Pinduoduo, JD.com, and Shouqianba, accept international UnionPay payment products. Hong Kong and Macao vehicles travelling to the mainland can enjoy seamless payments at multiple parking lots and tollgates in Guangdong Province.

Going forward, China UnionPay will work with all industry participants to ramp up the implementation of Project Excellence, with pledges to achieve substantial progress in more key cities and key use cases.

Author

  • Francis is a journalist and our lead LatAm correspondent, with a BA in Classical Civilization, he has a specialist interest in North and South America.

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