In an ambitious move to revolutionize the payment services landscape, China has embarked on a transformative project dubbed Project Excellence 2024, which was officially launched with a grand ceremony in Shanghai on March 15, 2024. Spearheaded by China UnionPay, this initiative is aimed at optimizing payment solutions across the country, with a special focus on enhancing convenience for senior citizens and international visitors.

The project is a direct response to the State Council’s recent guidelines which seek to address existing bottlenecks in payment services and foster a more diversified and inclusive payment environment. These guidelines highlight the central government’s dedication to the advancement of the payment industry and provide a clear blueprint for future development. Project Excellence 2024 emerges as a crucial pillar in realizing this vision, promising to create a robust payment system where various payment methods develop in harmony, offering a seamless experience to users from different demographics.

China UnionPay has committed a formidable investment of CNY 3 billion towards this cause, earmarked for key upgrades including acceptance terminal enhancements and widespread marketing efforts. This strategic investment aims to facilitate a broader acceptance network and richer payment solutions, encompassing cards, QR codes, and even traditional cash withdrawals. The project’s geographical and sectoral scope is extensive, covering 41 key cities nationwide and addressing 26 high-frequency use cases across eight major categories ranging from food & beverage to healthcare and education.

Shanghai, being a major hub for international visitors and a beacon of modern payment technologies, has been chosen as the starting point for this pioneering project. The inaugural marketing campaign, “Explore China Your Way with UnionPay,” seeks to attract a global audience by offering more discounts, diverse payment options, and an enriched user experience. This city’s prior success in accommodating the China International Import Expo (CIIE) sets a robust foundation for implementing Project Excellence.

The project has garnered high-level endorsements and support from significant figures, including Zhang Qingsong, Deputy Governor of the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), and Xie Dong, Vice Mayor of Shanghai. Their participation underscores the project’s national significance and the collaborative effort required across government and industry players to bridge the digital divide and enhance payment accessibility.

To kick off this comprehensive initiative, China UnionPay has already showcased 29 business achievements and inked partnership deals aimed at bolstering international card issuance and the acceptance of UnionPay’s payment solutions both within China and globally. These early successes are testament to the project’s potential to enhance China’s position as a leader in the global payment services arena.

Moreover, the partnerships formed with Ctrip Financial Services and China Tourism Group illustrate a strategic alliance between the payment industry and the tourism sector, ensuring that international visitors to China enjoy a seamless payment experience. This synergy is further enhanced through themed marketing campaigns designed to attract inbound travelers, promising significant cashback offers and other incentives.

At its core, Project Excellence 2024 embodies China UnionPay’s mission to facilitate “Payment for the People,” by delivering inclusive and easy-to-use payment solutions that cater to all, including the elderly and international visitors. The project stands as a testament to China’s commitment to creating a high-standard, open, and inclusive payment ecosystem, laying the groundwork for the future of financial services in the country and setting a global precedent in payment convenience and accessibility.