UnionPay partners with iZettle on European small businesses

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Fresh off securing $63m in new funding and appointing a new CFO, the Stockholm-based provider of contactless and mobile card readers has partnered with China’s payments giant, UnionPay, on increasing card acceptance for European SMEs.

As part of the partnership, iZettle’s card reader, iZettle Reader, will accept UnionPay credit and debit cards across its ten European markets. The transaction fee with UnionPay cards will be the same as for all other supported cards, including American Express, Visa, MasterCard, V Pay, Electron, Diners Club, JCB and Maestro.

Johan Bendz, chief marketing officer at iZettle, said: “This partnership will help the hundreds of thousands of business owners that use iZettle sell more by accepting more payment alternatives. Now, our merchants no longer need to turn away business from the millions of Chinese that visit Europe each year.”

Over the last few years, the European continent has become a major focus for Chinese fintech companies, primarily because more and more Chinese people visit it every year. According to the European Commission figures, 3.4 million tourists visited Europe in 2014; 12.5 visited it the following year. It was expected that during last year’s national Golden Week in October, the seven-day national holiday, an estimated 600 million Chinese tourists would travel abroad on holiday.

According to Ctrip, one of the largest Chinese online travel agencies,2.98 billion trips are expected to be made this year by Chinese tourists. The figures are bound to increase further in 2018 as the European Commission has begun promoting the EU to Chinese tourists under a programme called Tourism Year of EU-China in 2018.

“In the coming 15 years, one of the most exciting questions would be how Europe can live with the possibilities of the increasing number of Chinese visitors,” said István Ujhelyi, Vice-Chair of the Committee of Transport and Tourism in the European Parliament.

However, UnionPay, which last year knocked Visa off the number one spot when it comes to card payments globally, faces some stiff competition in the European market from its domestic rival, Alipay. Ant-Financial’s payment system, which utilises mobile and QR-code technology has been consistently expanding its European footprint with partnerships with Ingenico, Wirecard and Zapper.

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