By Alan Crawford,2015-03-23 08:01
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UnionPay makes mark in Turkey

    The largest domestic bank card company, China UnionPay Co Ltd, has begun

     issuing cards inTurkey jointly with Garanti Bank, riding on the "One Belt, One Road" initiatives.

    UnionPay has been expanding fast in overseas markets, especially Central Asian countries, tosupport the national strategy to build the Silk Road Economic

     Belt and the 21st Century MaritimeSilk Road.

    The belt stretches northwest from China through Central Asia, the Middle East

     and onward toEurope, while the maritime road runs to Southeast Asia. About 30 percent of UnionPay's latest list of 80 international airport merchants

     that offer prestigepackages to cardholders are located in countries on the "One Belt, One Road" pathways. Theyinclude Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand and Qatar, according to UnionPay's website.

    Economic ties with Turkey are growing fast, and UnionPay sees more opportunities in thatcountry, said Shi Wenchao, China UnionPay president. Simpler visa policies are helping as well.

    Ergun Ozen, president of Garanti Bank, which is Turkey's largest bankcard issuer, said deepercooperation with UnionPay will help local merchants and enterprises get more business.

    About 30 percent of retailers in Turkey accept UnionPay cards. Many of them are in cities thatare popular with Chinese travelers, including Istanbul and Ankara.

    UnionPay International, the bankcard issuer's overseas arm, has been developing its networksalong the "One Belt, One Road" in several countries, including Kazakhstan and the United ArabEmirates.

    "The bankcard association is deepening and expanding cooperation with its partners in thesecountries and regions," said Cai Jianbo, chief executive officer

     of UnionPay International.

    UnionPay's overseas business is being driven by China's outbound travel boom.

    The card "is increasingly known these days overseas and its logo is at almost every cashier andATM wherever I travel," said Sun Junyi, a tour guide with Shanghai Xinxin Travel Agency.

    About 260 million merchants in 150 countries and regions accept UnionPay cards, which has theworld's largest number of cardholders and the second-largest bankcard transaction volume, justafter that of United States-based Visa Inc.

    In 2014, interbank transactions using UnionPay cards totaled 41.1 trillion yuan

     ($6.62 trillion), up27.3 percent year-on-year.

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