Bank of China has launched a new payment card for Europe that offers Chinese tourists not only an easy way to pay but access to promotions at potentially more than 100,000 merchants in 32 European countries, the latest move in a wave of financial solutions targeting Chinese travelers.
The card's access to European merchants is facilitated by the Chinese bankcard association UnionPay, which already provides transaction handling services to regular Bank of China cardholders in Europe.
However, the card also offers cardholders the chance to participate in promotions negotiated with the help of Swiss-based Six Payment Services.
Cai Jianbo, CEO of UnionPay International, said his team will work to strengthen technical support for UnionPay users' payments, and help Chinese travelers gain even better promotion packages in Europe.
Xu Luode, executive vice-president of Bank of China, said the new card is part of the solution to concerns that the rate of growth of Chinese shopping in Europe has started to slow.
"We combine very premium European merchants and their promotions into our card offering, so we say to our customers, there are good products and services in Europe, you should come here," Xu said.
Currently, 20 percent of transactions handled by UnionPay in Europe are by BOC cardholders.
European merchants have quickly agreed to work with UnionPay and Bank of China on the new card and are developing promotions aimed at the new card's users.
Top brands including jewelers Bucherer and watch seller Beyer are among those offering deals.
Markus Baumgartner, sales director at Beyer, said Union-Pay has improved Beyer's access to Chinese shoppers. Today, 20-30 percent of revenue in Beyer's Swiss shops is processed through UnionPay. Six Payment Services began processing UnionPay transactions in 2006.
Roger Niederer, head of merchant services at Six Payment Services, said his team wants to work with UnionPay so Chinese cardholders can shop online or book hotels in Europe.
Howard Yu, a professor in strategic management and innovation at IMD Business School in Switzerland, said UnionPay's partnership with Six is smart because it quickly reaches an extensive network of European merchants.