Standard Chartered partners Chinese firm

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HARARE – In A dual development set to transform Africa’s access to China as well as simplify the ability of Chinese nationals to transact in Africa, Stanbic Bank Zimbabwe’s parent company, Standard Bank, has signed an agreement with UnionPay International to accept UnionPay cards in multiple African markets.

Standard Bank is also the first African bank to receive the licence to issue UnionPay cards in South Africa.

“African entrepreneurs and importers of Chinese goods and services have, traditionally, had to travel to China carrying foreign currency in cash for conversion into renminbi,” George Lo, executive head: Pan Africa China Banking at Standard Bank said.

Going forward, Standard Bank cards or online transaction solutions will provide access to all UnionPay-enabled platforms in China, and Africans dealing with China will no longer need to travel with cash.

Lo said “they will soon be able to purchase goods directly from suppliers throughout China at the swipe of a card.”

UnionPay is one of the world’s leading card payments systems and hosts the majority of transactions in China.

As such, Standard Bank’s agreement to accept UnionPay cards in multiple African markets by the end of 2018 broadens the geographic footprint — and potential customer reach — of UnionPay in Africa.

Larry Wang, vice president of UnionPay International was, “excited to be working with Standard Bank, Africa’s biggest bank, which provides UnionPay an unrivalled platform with unmatched reach across Africa.

“UnionPay strives to ensure convenient and safe payment services to a growing number global UnionPay cardholders visiting Africa, an increasingly important business and leisure destination. We also look forward to collaborating with Standard Bank in card issuance —  providing exciting new payment options for new African customers.”

In preparation for African expansion, UnionPay International recently appointed Luping Zhang as general manager of UnionPay International Africa. The appointment will strengthen UnionPay’s relationship with both Standard Bank and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC) while dramatically increasing the use of UnionPay cards in both Africa and China. This will, “position UnionPay as the key transaction-enabler between Africa and China,” added Wang.

From an African perspective, the agreement with UnionPay International provides Africans with direct access to China, including China’s highly developed electronic and mobile transaction platforms.

Payment apps are hugely popular in China. Nearly all of these are exclusively UnionPay-enabled. This means that Standard Bank’s UnionPay capability will allow Africans with Standard Bank accounts, cards or online payment products to access the full range of payment apps currently used to transact in China.

Even more importantly, says Lincoln Mali, group head: group cards and emerging payments at Standard Bank, “the combination of Standard Bank’s existing relationship with ICBC and now also UnionPay International is likely, in time, to obviate the need for Africans to travel to China at all.”

Standard Bank card holders will be able to access China’s ecommerce marketplace. This will allow African traders to locate and select goods remotely and then pay for them electronically via their Standard Bank cards. Going forward this will happen, “from desks, laptops and phones in Africa — without Standard Bank clients having to move physical cash, convert currency or travel to China,” adds Mali.