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Travelers from China Tap Traditional Payment Methods

Bank cards, cash top list of payment methods used abroad

August 16, 2016 | Retail & Ecommerce

While traveling abroad, travelers from China use their UnionPay bank card more often than any other method, including cash and credit cards like Visa, according to May 2016 research.

Payment Methods Used by Travelers in China While Traveling Abroad, May 2016 (% of respondents)

UnionPay is the sole domestic bank card in China, and respondents to the and Ipsos survey of consumers in China who had traveled abroad in the past year were overwhelmingly likely to use one.

While 66% of those surveyed by in May 2016 use their UnionPay card, cash only barely beat out Visa cards—41% of respondents use cash while 38% use a Visa.

Only 9% of respondents said they used WeChat Pay to make payments while abroad—undoubtedly niche—but Tencent’s payment app may be one for the future, and brings up the possibility of an all-in-one app, where one can make payments, chat with friends, and share photos all in one space. This might be especially attractive when combined with travel.

Expected Change in Spending on Traveling Abroad According to Travelers in China, by Category, May 2016 (% of respondents)

And there’s good news for the hotel and tourism industries outside China—33% of those surveyed ages 18 to 54 said they plan to spend more on traveling abroad in the year to come. More than 45% expect to spend more on entertainment, while 42% expect to do so on dining.

Even with categories where expectations of spending more are lower—like transport (23%) and accommodation (21%), two-thirds of travelers surveyed said they intend to spend the same amount on lodging and transportation. Which means that for a country like Australia, ranked No. 1 by travelers from China as the place they would most like to visit, revenues will, at the very least, stay steady.

The Boyd Group International estimates that 3.1 million air travelers in China will travel to the US in 2016, and by 2025, a whopping 16.8 million will do the same.

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