UnionPay | What’s up with that?
Visa, MasterCard and…UnionPay? The 411 on China’s most popular bank card.
On the cash registers of some businesses, next to MasterCard and Visa and the usual credit-card companies, it says they accept something called UnionPay. It appears to have some East Asian origin. What is it?—E.B., Rogers Park
UnionPay is the Visa of China, which is to say the nation’s most popular bank card. By the end of last year, the ten-year-old company had issued three billion credit and debit cards in China. Here in the U.S., businesses have been able to accept UnionPay only since 2005, when the Shanghai-based company struck a deal with Discover Financial Services; UnionPay is now welcome wherever Discover Card is accepted. One of those businesses is Cafecito, a purveyor of delectable Cuban sandwiches in the South Loop. “We’re right next door to Hostelling International,” barista Bisa Molinaro says, “so we see the card at least 10 to 15 times a day.” As for the company’s logo, the two Chinese characters approximately translate to “money connect.” The brand’s colored stripes, according to the company’s website, represent its mission to expand globally: red symbolizing aggressive, blue representing extensive and green for efficient. With UnionPay now in 125 countries, it seems the sleeping credit dragon has awoken.