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Fujian improves payment options for tourists

Cross-Strait business travelers to enjoy more benefits from opening-up efforts

By ZHOU LANXU in Beijing and HU MEIDONG in Fuzhou | China Daily | Updated: 2024-05-22 09:46
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Tourists walk along the Sanfang Qixiang, a well-preserved historical architectural complex in Fuzhou, Fujian province, May 9, 2024. [Photo/VCG]

The mainland coastal province of Fujian has made concrete headway in improving payment services for Taiwan visitors and other overseas travelers, official data showed, reflecting the country's strengthened efforts to deepen opening-up and boost cross-Strait integrated development.

Data from the Fujian Provincial Branch of the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, showed that 98.59 percent of 10,805 key merchants across the province now accept overseas bank cards, up a whopping 47 percentage points compared with the end of February.

Also, 99 percent of automated teller machines in the province operated by commercial banks with nationwide branches now accept overseas bank cards, up 13 percentage points from the end of February. The improvements came after the provincial government of Fujian released a circular in April calling for collaborated efforts among authorities to optimize payment services.

The province also piloted a new mobile payment product called the "Fu Lyu Tong" card, specifically designed to aid Taiwan visitors' payments. Taiwan visitors can easily apply for the cards with pilot banks using basic personal information, top them up with bank cards registered in Taiwan, and use them for payments via multiple mobile payment applications such as Weixin Pay, Alipay and UnionPay.

Ricky Zhan, a Taiwan businessman who has been living and doing business in Fujian since 2019, said he has witnessed a significant improvement made by the province in accommodating payment preferences of Taiwan visitors.

"My personal experience is that, for Taiwan businesspeople who frequently travel between the two sides of the strait, applying for a mainland mobile number and obtaining a local bank card can generally meet our daily living needs thanks to the fast development of mobile payments.

"But for Taiwan tourists and businesspeople visiting the mainland for short periods, it used to be quite inconvenient as they are more accustomed to using credit cards or cash.

"However, this year there has been a noticeable enhancement," Zhan said. A growing number of merchants in popular scenic spots accept payments via Taiwan bank cards, and cash is easily used in more places while a Taiwan bank card can directly link with Weixin Pay and Alipay.

The new online payment solution of the "Fu Lyu Tong" card also provides another convenient payment option, Zhan said, which can be activated, topped up and used for purchases entirely online, eliminating the need for physical bank visits.

"I hope that these effective measures can be known by more people, especially Taiwan compatriots who have not been to the Chinese mainland, so that they can know the convenience of technological financial services here."

Two meetings held in Fuzhou and Xiamen in Fujian province last week — attended by central bank officials, local senior officials, financial institutions and Taiwan businesspeople — have called for further efforts to enhance payment services for Taiwan visitors and businesses.

During the meetings, officials emphasized the importance of maintaining the current level of intensity and resource input in optimizing payment services. Efforts should be made to enhance cross-departmental collaboration and effectively address the payment needs of the elderly, Taiwan visitors and Taiwan businesses.

Addressing the meetings, Zhang Qingsong, deputy governor of the central bank, said that financial institutions should deliver targeted and refined services for Taiwan visitors and businesses, while payment products tailor-made for them should be improved with expanded coverage.

The initiatives in Fujian reflect a broader national effort aimed at improving payment experiences of overseas visitors. This priority is one of the central focuses for the central bank this year, which is seeking greater advancements in this area by the end of June.

In April, the number and value of transactions via international card POS terminals across the country both doubled compared with February. Over 2 million inbound travelers used mobile payments last month, with both the number and value of transactions up by more than 80 percent from February, the central bank said.

Zhong Wanyu in Xiamen contributed to this story.

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