China’s UnionPay teams up with retail giant in Sri Lanka for mobile payments

Cai Jianbo, chief executive officer, UnionPay International

While China is the one of Sri Lanka’s largest trade partners, it also ranks high among the tourist originating countries that visit the South Asian island country each year. This has ensured wide acceptance of Chinese cards at merchants and ATMs across Sri Lankan cities.

UnionPay has now decided to roll out its mobile payments service in Sri Lanka to benefit from the fast growing indsutry.

UnionPay International, which is UnionPay’s global subsidiary, will collaborate with Cargills Group, a large retail and FMCG group in Sri Lanka to launch UnionPay QR code payment service. The roll out will begin in the first half of next year.

Cargills ecosystem includes supermarkets, restaurants and cinemas. UnionPay will power Cargills’ e-wallet with the QR code function through digital issuance of cards. Apart from this, the Chinese lender has also developed NFC mobile payment and in-app payment.

“This cooperation is significant as UPI is rolling out its mobile payment products through cross-border cooperation with large retail groups,” said Cai Jainbo, chief executive officer, UnionPay International.

The mobile payments industry in Sri Lanka is growing rapidly. While the country saw an annual rise of 17.1% in the volume of mobile payment transactions, their value jumped nearly four-fold to Rs 21.3 billion (LKR) in April-June quarter this year, according to central bank data. However, only 2.5% of these transactions were directed towards retail payments. There are 14 licensed mobile payment operators in Sri Lanka.

Early this year, UnionPay international had identified Sri Lanka as one of the “new favorites” of Chinese tourists.  This was reflected in the increased card transaction volumes at catering, accommodation, entertainment, tourist spots and travel booking merchants.

UnionPay’s QR code payment is currently accepted at around 60,000 merchants in 23 countries and regions outside the Chinese mainland. It plans to enhance its service capability outside the region by supporting payment upgrades in overseas markets.

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