First ever China UnionPay pre-paid card in Africa launched


“It’s a big moment. UnionPay is effectively the biggest network in the world with around 3.7 billion cards, much larger than Visa and Mastercard, and thanks to this, our customers have access now to eight million points of acceptance across China and Southeast Asia,” Mauritius Commercial Bank (MCB)head of cards Binesh Mangar told CNBC Africa on Friday.

The card, jointly issued by UnionPay, will be accepted in over 140 countries and regions including the United States.

The MCB, which also has a banking presence in Seychelles, Madagascar and Mozambique, explained that the pre-paid card will allow business travellers from China will be able to bank at ease in Mauritius, and in turn increase trade in the country.


“We have in Mauritius 1.2 million people, 800,000 who are eligible for cards. Thanks to pre-paid, this card is not just restricted to Mauritius Commercial Bank customers but in fact all Mauritians. That’s a big plus and certainly the Mauritians can now have access to the Union Pay network,”Mangar explained.

“If you go to China you’ll find that in these countries you can use only the Visas and Mastercards  for transactions in hotels and ATMs but thanks to the pre-paid Union Pay card, now it’s used for all shops, all restaurants everywhere.”

The MCB aims to partner with other African banks in future by putting in systems of integration, policies and strategies that will adapt to the various markets and increase growth.

“Banking has started as basically being branch-centric: you come to the branch and you get all the services of banking involved. With the cards, it moved towards being ATM-centric,” said Mangar.

“The world of banking is now reaching the world of mobile payments, mobile banking, and consequently now the services are centred around the customer.”