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UnionPay expands contactless, sees online shift amid COVID-19

UnionPay International, a Chinese mobile wallet provider, aims to expand contactless payment in markets worldwide and provide help through other means amid the COVID-19 pandemic. 

It has partnered with Kazakhstan's Halyk Savings Bank to support a plan for 100,000 contactless cards to help reduce the spread of the virus and is backing a similar plan in Russia and Mongolia through partnerships with Gazprombank and Khan Bank respectively, according to a press release.

The company said there has been a 20% increase in online transactions worldwide since the start of the pandemic. Those transactions have doubled in Japan and rose by 70% in the U.S.

Many of these purchases involved essential items, services and medicine that customers would normally buy in person, but cannot due to social distancing and stay at home orders, according to the release. Union Pay is partnering with banks and payments firms like Stripe, Banco Santander in Spain, Nexi in Italy, National Commercial Bank in Saudi Arabia and others to facilitate these transactions. 

It also has recently joined various platforms, including ride hailing service Lyft in the U.S., FoodPanda, a mobile ordering service in Southeast Asia, Gett in Russia, Amazon in Australia and Ceezmall in Pakistan and partnered with WeDoctor, a Tencent-based healthcare app that provides telemedicine consultations with a team of 7,800 medical professionals to help consumers through the coronavirus outbreak and associated mental health challenges. 

UnionPay is also offering a special program with 40 online merchants to help subsidize health care costs under a partnership with Jing Dong. The program helps to provide masks, disinfectant and other supplies at lower prices.