SBM Bank has rolled out prepaid cards in Kenya, in association with UnionPay International.

The UnionPay prepaid cards will enable cardholders of the bank to make online and real-time purchases.

UnionPay general manager for Africa Luping Zhang said: “We are looking to partner with banks such as SBM Bank to enable Kenyan businesses gain direct access to the Chinese market through our card-based payment systems.”

The latest move forms part of UnionPay’s strategy to expand across Africa, where it is already accepted in more than 50 markets, and facilitate payments with Chinese businesses, Zhang noted.

The new offering will be initially issued as shilling denominated cards. Addition of a Yuan and Dollar wallet is in the pipeline.

Daily top ups are capped at KES750,000 ($7,227.75). However, users can set their own spending limits during online purchases and while travelling.

SBM group chairman Kee Chong Li said: “With China increasingly becoming a leading trade partner for Kenya and wider African continent, this particular UnionPay prepaid card will eventually have a Yuan wallet enabling users to make direct purchases from China and shielding them from forex losses.”

According to Li, the card addresses security concerns for travellers as well as for those making online purchases.

Other UnionPay deals in 2019

In May, UnionPay collaborated with Zimbabwe-based Steward Bank to introduce UnionPay cards and mobile payments in the country.

Besides, UnionPay tied up with 3C Payment this April to expand its acceptance in Europe.

In March, the payments firm formed partnerships with Antigua and Barbuda-based NIBank to strengthen presence in Latin American countries, as well as Barclaycard.

Notably, UnionPay received a payment systems operator (PSO) licence in Nepal in July this year.