UnionPay celelebrates 200 million cards issued since 2012, and 20 million in 2022

Rick Steves

UnionPay International has stepped into a new decade of cross-border payment services to the world’s largest cardholder base after issuing more than 200 million UnionPay cards outside the Chinese Mainland since 2012. 


The payments firm has expanded from 60 initial members since its establishment in 2012 to 2,500 institutions internationally with an acceptance network that currently spans 181 countries and regions, 78 of which now issue UnionPay cards.

The past decade has seen UnionPay developing technology to share a brand-new cross-border payment experience with cardholders across the globe.

38 million merchants outside Chinese Mainland accept UnionPay cards

Presently, outside the Chinese Mainland, 38 million global merchants accept UnionPay cards, a four-fold increase since 2012, with four million new merchants added in 2022 alone.

UnionPay card acceptance rates in APAC, Europe and North America have reached 95%, 80%, and 80% respectively, while 22 million online merchants in 200 countries and regions now use UnionPay for payments.

The firm has also accelerated product iterations and service upgrades to meet changing payment habits of international customers and has become a leader in cross-border chip cards in Asia.

Payment alliances and collaborations with central banks and national switch networks have paved the way to make UnionPay a top payments firm in the region, namely in Thailand and the Philippines.

The firm launched the UnionPay App, which supports contactless, QR code and In-APP payments, largely enhancing mobile payment experiences for cardholders. More than 170 UnionPay standard e-wallets have been launched outside the Chinese mainland, and over 16 million international merchants can experience the convenience brought by QR code payments or the “swipe” QuickPass.

UnionPay strong in Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, HK, Macau

The Hong Kong and Macau SAR version of UnionPay App were launched in 2018. Since then, these have become one of the most popular mobile payment products for residents.

Access to UnionPay mobile payment services includes Singapore’s PayLah!, Malaysia’s Boost, Thailand’s K Plus, as well as multiple other leading products.

Behind these achievements lie of UPI’s technical service platforms, including developer, cloud card issuance, and scenario service platforms, which reduce technical difficulties and costs for partners to access UnionPay mobile services, supporting more financial institutions.  Telecommunications, retail, and other enterprises have also joined the UnionPay mobile payment ecosystem to enhance the mobile payment experience of international cardholders.

As part of its global expansion, UnionPay issues its first cards in Zambia in 2022, a year that saw more than 20 million UnionPay cards issued internationally. Transaction rates exceeded pre-pandemic levels.

In the Asia Pacific region, one-in-four newly issued bank cards is from UnionPay which now accounts for 95% of debit cards in Hong Kong and Macau SAR.

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