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Zero Pay mulls partnership with China’s UnionPay

Zero Pay, a mobile payment app developed by Seoul City, is considering a partnership with China’s financial platform UnionPay International, the company’s official said Wednesday.

“We’re negotiating with UnionPay and other payment apps abroad but it is very early stage,” an official from Korea Easy Payment Foundation, which operates Zero Pay, said.

“But it is our firm goal to expand our network beyond Korea so that users can pay with our app overseas,” the official said. 

A Zero Pay sign adhered a store’s door (Korea Easy Payment Foundation)
A Zero Pay sign adhered a store’s door (Korea Easy Payment Foundation)
If materialized, Zero Pay users will be able to pay through Union Pay’s network of 30 million stores across 41 countries and regions.

The 2-year-old payment app, which facilitates a large number of mom-and-pop stores, teamed up with Wechat Pay last November. Wechat is the mobile messenger developed by Chinese mobile giant Tencent. Zero Pay’s collaboration with Wechat Pay allows users of the Chinese app to pay in South Korea at participating locations of about 700,000 stores across Korea.

Initially, the Seoul municipal government faced criticism for developing an app in a market that is already concentrated by several players in the private sector. In Nov. 2019, the operation and management of Zero Pay were transferred to a non-profit private foundation KEPF.

The COVID-19 pandemic was a game-changer for Zero Pay as consumers and business owners alike adopted contactless payment methods. The app gained traction, seeing its accumulated transactions double to 1 trillion won from July to November of last year.

By Park Ga-young (gypark@heraldcorp.com)
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