Chinese visitors will soon be able make payments and cash withdrawals throughout France with their UnionPay cards, a development expected to facilitate spending by the sought-after tourists.
Chinese visitors are the biggest spenders in France, according to central bank data, splashing out €1,647 ($1,913) per person and per trip, excluding travel costs.
UnionPay, China’s top issuer of bank cards, and the Cartes Bancaires group which manages France’s payment card system, announced earlier this week they were working to extend the recognition of Chinese cards throughout France using existing payment terminals.
While UnionPay cards are recognised at a majority of bank cash machines in France, they can often be used in shops only in areas heavily frequented by tourists.
Adoption begins next year
Cartes Bancaires told AFP wider acceptance of UnionPay cards in shops should begin in mid-2019.
This should lead to Chinese visitors spending more “as tourists often limit themselves when they need cash to pay,” said Jean-François Zhou, director of Ansel Travel agency that specialises in serving Chinese travellers.
He expects this to be the case even if many shops are equipping themselves with Alipay and WeChat Pay terminals to allow Chinese tourists to pay with their smartphones.
The acceptance of UnionPay cards at all payment terminals in France will open retailers to the roughly €3.5 billion that Chinese tourists spend in the country each year.