AIB Merchant Services, a merchant acquiring joint venture between Allied Irish Banks p.l.c. and First Data Corporation, today became the first Irish merchant acquirer to add the Chinese card UnionPay to its list of available card schemes.
AIBMS has signed an agreement with UnionPay International to provide Irish businesses and retailers with the ability to accept transactions made using UnionPay debit and credit cards.
Acceptance of the Chinese UnionPay card will enable Irish businesses to tap into the immense spending power of Chinese visitors to Ireland. Currently there are almost as many UnionPay cards globally in circulation as the two leading payment cards combined and UnionPay is projected to grow 51 per cent by 2017 (Nilson Report, November 2013).
As the first Irish acquirer to offer UnionPay card acceptance, AIBMS believes Irish merchants are poised to increase business from the Chinese tourist trade. A recent Tourism Ireland survey of 1,000 Chinese adults revealed that acceptance of Chinese bank cards was cited by 81 per cent of those surveyed as a key factor in destination choice.
David Courtney, General Manager, AIB Merchant Services commented: "The AIBMS agreement with UnionPay International is significant. We are delighted to enable Irish businesses to accept the preferred card of our Chinese guests. Tourism Ireland data shows that Chinese tourists are reportedly the fourth biggest spenders internationally*, so this service really is essential to Irish businesses. Furthermore, relations between the Republic of Ireland and China are strengthening all the time and trade is increasing, potentially adding to corporate visitor numbers."
He continued: "AIBMS has brought UnionPay facilities to a number of businesses to date and we expect many more hotels and retail businesses to follow soon."
Tourism Ireland estimates that the number of visitors to Ireland from China reached 17,000 in 2012 and up to 19,000 last year, with numbers expected to increase to 50,000 by 2017, from a market of over 500,000 high net worth individuals in China.*
* Source: Tourism Ireland data, 2013