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China's answer to Visa and Mastercard keeps tills ringing in Taiwan

Publication Date : 25-07-2012

 

Chinese tourists are spending more in Taiwan than ever, and Taiwanese merchants have a little piece of plastic to thank.

UnionPay, China's answer to Visa and MasterCard, is behind NT$22 billion (US$729.8 million) worth of transactions in the first half of this year. This accounted for half of all spending by 1.26 million mainland holiday-makers, data obtained from banking watchdog the Financial Supervisory Commission (FSC) and the Tourism Bureau shows.

This is despite the credit facility with the rainbow-coloured logo having made its debut in Taiwan only three years ago.

For the whole of 2010, Chinese visitors spent a total of NT$59.1 billion in Taiwan, of which only NT$9.8 billion or 16.6 per cent were on UnionPay credit cards.

Now, the splurging power of Chinese consumers is driving the proliferation of UnionPay in Taiwan, which in turn facilitates even more spending.

The gift shop at the National Palace Museum was one of the first retailers in Taiwan to accept UnionPay cards in mid-2009. Manager Wu Kuei-fang said UnionPay transactions comprise 45 per cent of its takings of NT$738 million between May last year and April this year.

At the popular Li Ji pineapple cake shop in Taipei, owner Chang Wan-ling plans to install UnionPay-ready terminals by Chinese New Year next February.

"Chinese tourists make up 20 to 30 per cent of the shop's turnover. Currently, most of them pay for their purchases in Taiwan dollars, but some have told me that it's inconvenient," she said.

Last year, the FSC approved UnionPay for use at Taiwanese online retailers too. Top names like PChome have started swiping the cards virtually for orders from mainland customers.

The National Palace Museum plans to jump onto the bandwagon by year-end. "Chinese tourists would be able to buy our merchandise without coming to Taiwan," said Wei Fang-chi, deputy manager of the museum's marketing department.

Now, even Taiwanese banks such as China Trust and Cathay United are keen to issue UnionPay cards, but the move is subject to approval by the FSC.

 

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