UnionPay spreads wings in Thailand (China Daily)

UnionPay International, the Chinese card payment system, and the Thai Bankers Association signed an agreement on Tuesday to make UnionPay the standard chip card for local banks across the Thai banking industry.

It makes Thailand the first foreign country to adopt UnionPay as its standard chip card. Banks in Thailand are required to issue all debit cards and some credit cards with chips by 2016.

Kobsak Duangdee, secretary-general of TBA, said it chose UnionPay amid fierce international competition.

“The partnership with UnionPay International will modernize Thailand’s financial system and help our banks improve their card services with more safety and convenience features,” said Kobsak.

Tongurai Limpiti, vice-governor of the Bank of Thailand, said the use of chip cards will be crucial in promoting digital payments in future, as the country moves toward more transactions being done by plastic instead of cash.

“There will be more forms of financial transaction, such as payments via mobile and wearable devices. The development of this technology is bringing opportunities as well as challenges to us,” she said.

Tongurai said the use of chip cards will also help cardholders avoid having their information stolen, while banks can improve the efficiency of information transmission, as well as lower their operating costs.

Ge Huayong, chairman of UnionPay, said its chip cards are compatible with Europay, Mastercard, and Visa standards, and that its chip and magnetic composite cards are accepted around the world.

The agreement means UnionPay cards can now be used in nearly all automated teller machines and almost 70 percent of merchants across Thailand, including large department stores, airports and duty-free shops. “There is a long history of friendship between China and Thailand, and cooperation between the two nations has been strong across a broad range of areas.”

Ge said China is the largest source of international tourists for Thailand and more than one million UnionPay cards have been issued in Thailand, and nearly six million UnionPay cardholders from China are expected to visit the country this year.

chenjia1@chinadaily.com.cn

(China Daily 08/19/2015 page16)