Why Australian retailers should consider using UnionPay

The term UnionPay is being bandied about right now, as it is almost every year during Lunar New Year celebrations.

It’s the time of year when an influx of Chinese tourists has retailers and hospitality owners grinning; although many might be missing out on business by not accepting UnionPay as a payment method.

According to UnionPay, users spends an average of $780 in Australia in each transaction with their UnionPay card, which the company says is more than double of any other bank card.


What is UnionPay?


China UnionPay is a bank card organisation founded in 2002 and is the only domestic bank card organisation in China. It now has an international subsidiary, named UnionPay International, which is used by more than 5 million people in 150 countries.

It is the bank card of choice for many international tourists and students, although currently Australian consumers can also apply for cards from the Bank of China.

Australians travelling to China can also use UnionPay via pre-paid travel cards from Australia Post, with Australia’s mail carrier signing on to a partnership with UnionPay in 2014.

UnionPay grew by more than 50% in 2014, compared to just over 13% for Mastercard and 10% for Visa, according to The Financial Times.


What is UnionPay doing for business?


UnionPay has helped retailers and other businesses like taxi drivers gain better access to the large number of Chinese tourists visiting Australian shores, with Australia’s large department stores offering UnionPay as a method of payment for their shoppers.

Over this Lunar New Year, David Jones is hoping to attract shoppers by offering $100 gift cards to UnionPay cardholders who spend $1000.

Since last June, Myer has offered UnionPay customers Tap&Go services in its stores, making it faster and more convenient for cardholders.


Should SMEs get involved?


More than 1 million Chinese tourists have visited Australia in 2015 and there’s growing appetite among these shoppers for locally made goods and products.

The simple act of putting a small UnionPay sticker is said to make a Chinese tourist or student 20 times more likely to enter your business, which is a good starting point for SMEs to get a slice of the $4.8 billion annually spent in Australia.


How can SMEs add UnionPay to their payments?


According to Union Pay International, UnionPay cards are accepted at over 220,000 merchants in Australia and at 80% of ATMS, with Australia’s largest banks all offering businesses the ability to accept UnionPay through merchant terminals.

NAB claimed to be the first Australian bank to offer UnionPay through merchant terminals and ATMs, although UnionPay is also now offered through other banks including the Commonwealth Bank, ANZ, Westpac, HSBC, St George Bank and the Bank of Melbourne.



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Paul McIntyre
Paul McIntyre
5 years ago

We are a small retail store which occasionally has Chinese tourist customers. They routinely ask for a discount as is the custom in China, oblivious to any Australian customs or whether it may be considered rude or offensive. So we point to our sign in Chinese advising “Our pricing is not inflated and haggling is not customary in Australia. Our staff are not authorised to give discounts”. 50% refuse to make the purchase. The other 50% we then must advise there is a 1.5% surcharge because of the EXTREMELY HIGH merchant fees of Union Pay compared to other cards and feeling “ripped off” with no discount plus a surcharge, in every case to date every Chinese customer has simply paid in CASH. So we have never actually had a Union Pay transaction even though we accept it. We conclude everything about Union Pay article above is a lie……