China’s UnionPay cards will be accepted by 90 percent of point-of-sale terminals and automated teller machines in major cities in Russia, including Moscow and St. Petersburg, before the 2018 World Cup, according to Shanghai-based UnionPay International.
Russia’s two supermarket chains have announced that they will adopt Alipay as a way to pay at their stores before the Chinese Spring Festival. Before this, Alipay is already connected with the public transportation systems in Moscow, including buses, subways, and even bikes.
The large number of Chinese tourists in Russia and their strong buying power are reasons why Russian banks and merchants are interested to work with UnionPay and Alipay.
According to Russian tourism association World Without Borders, about 900,000 Chinese tourists took advantage of Russia’s visa-free policy to visit the country in 2017, witnessing a year-on-year growth of 18 percent. During the 2018 World Cup, at least 100,000 Chinese are expected to visit Russia.
The growing number of inbound Chinese tourists is expected to create 33 billion yuan ($5.1 billion) of market value for Russia every year, said an official with Russia’s VTB Bank.
Chinese visitors are creating 9 percent of the total sales volume for a shopping mall in Moscow, and 22 percent of the total turnover of another shopping center in St. Petersburg.
So far, 10 banks in Russia have issued 1.3 million UnionPay cards, in a bid to offer more convenience to Russia users to pay overseas.
UnionPay cards entered the Russian market in 2006, and experienced explosive growth in 2014, around the time that China established a comprehensive strategic partnership with Russia. In the following three years, the number of cards issued by UnionPay in Russia increased sharply to two million.
In addition, driven by the Belt and Road construction, financial cooperation between China and Russia has been promoted. The use of modern ways to pay has also satisfied the need to safeguard Russia’s financial safety.
According to statistics, at least 50 Belt and Road countries and regions have issued UnionPay cards.