BY TATIRA ZWINOIRA
STEWARD Bank has partnered Chinese financial services firm, UnionPay International (UPI), to provide payment services for Zimbabweans travelling between the southern African country and Beijing.
“Basically, what we are going to do is to launch a prepaid card initially…Our prepaid card will be available to everyone under KYC (Know your customer), where you can walk across the counter, fund your card and be able to transact anywhere globally where there is a UPI acceptance point,” Steward Bank Payments and Digital Financial Services divisional head Tapera Mushoriwa said.
“So, we are not bringing this product specifically for Steward Bank customers, we are bringing this product for every Zimbabwean who has an international payment they need to make.”
China remains one of Zimbabwe’s top trading partners, with annual trade reaching over US$1 billion. Zimbabwe mainly exports tobacco, cotton and various minerals to China. Imports from China range from electrical goods, auto parts to household merchandise.
In terms of tourism, 14 407 Chinese tourists visited Zimbabwe in 2017 while a significant number of Zimbabweans visit China for educational or business purposes.
UPI Africa branch general manager Luping Zhang said the partnership would allow them to spread their reach across the continent.
“We finally found that we can co-operate in terms of UnionPay card acceptance and issuance in Zimbabwe, considering that UnionPay is one of the largest card payments schemes in the world… So by having this co-operation we can have a win-win situation. Compared with the major card schemes, we can also offer a better service in the Asia-Pacific markets especially in China,” he said.
“We have a much better acceptance cover compared to any other country in the Asian-Pacific. Secondly, in terms of cost we also have a bigger advantage over our competitors.”
UPI is present in 162 countries and regions around the world, making it the third-largest payment network by value of transactions processed, behind Visa and MasterCard. Of those countries and regions, UPI issues cards in 40 of those places.