Italian bank UniCredit and China’s UnionPay International have signed a letter of intent to strengthen their partnership on card issuing.

Under the agreement, the Italian bank will launch UnionPay branded cards in Italy.

Furthermore, UnionPay will leverage UniCredit’s network of subsidiaries to expand its activities into other European countries – mainly Bulgaria, the Czech Republic, Croatia, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina.

UniCredit will use the agreement to broaden its range of payments products.

The two companies first reached a deal to expand Chinese bankcard use in Italy in 2013.

The partners commenced their international cooperation outside of Italy via an acquiring agreement with Turkish subsidiary of UniCredit.

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Currently, UnionPay cards are accepted at all UniCredit ATMs in Italy and its entire merchant network of over 200,000 POS terminals.

The Italian bank activated contactless payments on its POS terminals for UnionPay cardholders in 2018.

In Europe, UnionPay is accepted at more than 3.3 million merchants in 40 countries and regions.

The Chinese firm’s global network has extended to 174 countries and regions, which covers 52 million merchants and 2.6 million ATMs worldwide.

In March this year, UniCredit formed a new partnership to launch Samsung’s payment service for its cardholders across the country.