KBank first Thai bank linked to China’s UnionPay for online payments, e-commerce

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BANGKOK, Jan 23 —  Thailand’s KasikornBank (KBank) has connected its online payment system with UnionPay International (UPI), China’s credit card giant, to serve the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting Thailand, with 3.3 million visitors expected this year. 

Online payment for products and services using credit and debit cards emphasises Thailand’s leadership in e-commerce, KBank’s top executive said today, and the bank expects a 30 per cent rise in card acceptance this year by Bt60 billion (about US$2 billion).

KBank CEO/President Banthoon Lamsam said the bank and UnionPay, the Chinese credit and debit card service provider with the world’s largest cardholder base, inked a payment system connection agreement to facilitate Chinese tourists and cardholders living in Thailand with more convenience in their financial transactions, starting with K-Payment Gateway. KBank is the first Thai bank with such a service.

Initially, the system can accept UnionPay credit and debit cards issued by KBank and Chinese financial institutions, with acceptance of additional cards it and other international financial institutions issue in future.

The number of UnionPay cardholders worldwide is the world’s highest at 3.23 billion, with 2.8 billion in Asia Pacific, while merchants accepting UnionPay cards number at least 5.65 million. More than 1.37 million ATMs in 107 countries also accept UnionPay cards.

Spending in Thailand using UnionPay cards totaled approximately Bt34.5 billion ($1.15 billion) in 2012, while ATM cash withdrawals using the card were Bt1.56 billion, a rise of 38 per cent. Spending via KBank’s electronic data captures (EDCs) was at Bt7.7 billion, a jump of 38 per cent.

The agreement with UnionPay lets merchants using K-Payment Gateway accept UnionPay credit and debit cards, to support boosting sales with e-commerce in Thailand.

The move allows online business extension, as Chinese are the largest group of foreign tourists in Thailand, more than from Malaysia. In 2012, more than 2.8 million Chinese visited Thailand, a rise of 62 per cent from the previous year. The number is expected to rise to 3.3 million in 2013.

KBank hopes to develop more services for Chinese clients and will also issue UnionPay cards to Thais.

K-Payment Gateway now serves international credit and debit cards in 36 major currencies. In 2012, more than Bt45 billion in card acceptance was conducted using K-Payment Gateway, marking its top player position with more than a 70 per cent market share.

Mr Banthoon said KBank sees the agreement with UnionPay as helping boost card acceptance via its K-Payment Gateway with least 30 per cent growth, some Bt60 billion.