UnionPay International (UPI), a wholly-owned subsidiary of Chinese payment firm UnionPay, has partnered with ACBA to enable card acceptance in Armenia for the first time.

Under the alliance, ACBA will allow its merchants and ATMs to accept UnionPay cards within six months.

The collaboration with ACBA will allow airports, shopping malls, hotels, and restaurants, to accept UnionPay branded cards.

UnionPay estimates that the overall acceptance rate of its cards will surpass 50% mark in Armenia by next year.

China UnionPay chairman Shao Fujun said: “The acceptance of UnionPay cards in Armenia further improves UnionPay service capability in the region, and contributes to the interconnection and interworking of payment network along the Belt and Road.

“In the future, UnionPay will carry out more cooperation with institutions in Armenia in terms of card acceptance, card issuance, and innovative payment, to enhance business contacts between Armenia and Russia/Central Asia.”

ACBA vice president Arsen Melkonyan stated: “This will contribute to the development of the Armenian economy and its tourism sector in particular, as UnionPay cardholders from China and other countries will now easily use their cards in our country.

“This is an important step towards strengthening the cooperation between our countries and we are proud to have our contribution to this important undertaking.”

By foraying into the Armenian market, UnionPay acceptance has expanded to 177 countries.

Last month, UnionPay International entered into a partnership with Sweden-based Swedbank, to expand the acceptance of its cards in Estonia, Latvia, and Lithuania.