UnionPay Pushes Open-Loop Transit Payments, as It Seeks to Stay Competitive with Alipay and WeChat Pay

NFC TIMES Exclusive – China’s major bank card network, China UnionPay, has been faltering badly in its battle for mobile payments market share against Ant Financial and Tencent Holdings, and now the two Internet giants have turned their attention to enabling mobile transit ticketing across the country.

Ant Financial and Tencent together already have more than 30 cities using their respective QR code-based mobile payments services, Alipay and WeChat Pay, to enable riders to pay bus and metro fares. UnionPay, fearing it could lose this market like it has lost mobile retail payments, is pushing open-loop fare collection in some of the same cities that Ant Financial and Tencent have entered and already has 14 major projects in China in play (see table below). 

The UnionPay projects support either contactless bank cards and NFC phones or QR codes or both. They include open-loop fare collection in such major cities as Shanghai, Guangzhou, Tianjin and Hangzhou–the latter supporting real-time authorization of transactions. 

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