Africa's largest bank and UnionPay International plan to increase eCommerce acceptance in Africa

January 4, 2024
2 min read
Standard Bank
  • Standard Bank Group, the largest bank by assets in Africa with operations in 20 African nations, and UnionPay International, a subsidiary of UnionPay in China, have agreed to facilitate eCommerce in several African countries.
  • This new service will boost the uptake of UnionPay, drawing more eCommerce businesses and customers to the bank's platform.
  • This move comes four years after the bank introduced the UnionPay card — virtual and physical — to South African account holders through its Shyft app, a fintech platform, to facilitate transactions for the thousands of South Africans who visit China annually for business and pleasure.  

Per Bill Blackie, Chief Executive of Business and Commercial Banking at Standard Bank Group, this new development will guarantee that customers across the continent have simple access to both regional and global markets and services.

Per Asad Burney, Head of UnionPay International Africa, this initiative will significantly benefit the bank's online merchants and current UnionPay cardholders. It also seeks to increase African merchants' exposure to a global audience.

The organisations claim that by working together, they are taking advantage of the expansion of eCommerce across the continent. A projection by the International Trade Administration revealed that Africa will surpass half a billion eCommerce users by 2025, showing a steady 17% compound annual growth rate of online consumers for the market.

Additionally, the South African bank's goal is to increase the number of eCommerce merchants on the bank's platform, draw in new business, and improve the adoption of UnionPay services.


UnionPay, already present in 50 African countries, is set to expand its network further with this agreement, bringing its global reach to 181 countries.

In 2021, Standard Bank's point-of-sale devices started supporting UPI contactless payments in South Africa.

In November 2023, UnionPay International partnered with Fets, a mobile money platform, to launch virtual cards in Nigeria via the Fet App. This gives clients access to several payment options, such as digital wallets, virtual cards, and other payment methods.

UnionPay is competing with Mastercard and Visa, among others. It surpassed Visa as the world's most popular debit card provider in 2022, capturing 40.03 per cent of the global debit card market, an increase of 1.39 percentage points, while Visa held 38.78 per cent, a drop of 0.82 percentage points. 

Meanwhile, Flutterwave recently acquired money transfer licences for 13 US states to “enable faster, more affordable, and secure transfers of money from the United States to Africa and back.”

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