Standard Bank, UnionPay International partner for Chinese to transact in Africa


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 license 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,” explains George Lo, Standard Bank Executive Head for Pan Africa China Banking.

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.

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

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.”



Even more importantly, says Lincoln Mali, Group Head: Group Cards & 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.

“At the swipe of a card at any Standard Bank hosted point of sale or through simple internet banking, the need for Chinese business people or tourists to carry physical cash or convert and transfer foreign currency falls away,” adds Lo. 

The African Business Review recently reported that Chinese tourist arrivals in Africa doubled in the 12 months up to August 2017.

Standard Bank’s incremental extension of UnionPay across the continent is likely to increase this trend as, “transacting and traveling in Africa becomes both easier and safer for Chinese tourists and business people alike – soon able to operate in a cashless environment by merely swiping their cards,” says Mali. 

“These two developments widen the relevance of UnionPay to both Africans and Chinese seeking to access opportunity and support transactions at both end of the Africa China corridor – by increasing the number of African’s trading with China as well as the number of Chinese businesses and services dealing with Africa,” says Lo.  


About Author

Bontle Moeng is the Founder and Managing Director of BizNis Africa. Moeng has spent 16 years working in the digital and online media industry across Africa. She applied her trade at True Love magazine prior to discovering her passion for Investment news in key sectors across Africa. Moeng previously worked for ITWeb, Starfish Mobile Technologies, ITNewsAfrica, AVATAR Agency, eNitiate, Global Interface Consulting and Havas Johannesburg. Her primary focus is to provide solid and valuable content on investment opportunities for the ICT, Energy and Mining sectors across Africa. In addition, the online news publication assists global companies to expand their presence in Africa. Email:

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