China UnionPay Debuts NFC Payment App (July 16, 2013)
July 16, 2013
Shanghai-based payment card network UnionPay continues to expand its NFC-based mobile payment offerings, launching a new smartphone app for contactless payments last week. Dubbed simply Wallet, the app enables users to link card accounts from eight participating Chinese banks to NFC-enabled smartphones from China Mobile and make purchases at POS terminals via tap Wallet users also can locate stores, hotels and other services, as well as download vouchers and manage loyalty/rewards programs from merchants. UnionPay’s bank partners on the app are some of the country’s largest financial institutions, including Bank of China Ltd., Shanghai Pudong Development Bank and China CITIC Bank, with more bank partners expected to sign on in the future.
NFC-enabled smartphones have experienced a boom in China recently. During Q1 2013, 7 million smartphones with NFC functions were sold in the country, up more than 550 percent over the previous year, according to market research firm GfK China. And by 2014, China is projected to see more than $8 billion in NFC purchases, according to ABI Research.
UnionPay has been among the most active promoters of NFC development in China. In January, the network inked a deal with telecom network and equipment maker ZTE Corp. to provide mobile payment services to UnionPay cardholders and develop new NFC-enabled mobile phone models. The following month, UnionPay partnered with Dutch digital payment security provider Gemalto to build “a secure mobile NFC ecosystem.” UnionPay is the world’s largest payment card network, with more than 3.5 billion cards issued to date.