BCEL, China UnionPay agree deal on ATM transactions

BCEL, one of the largest commercial banks in Laos, hopes to become a major player in international financial transaction services after reaching a cooperation agreement with China UnionPay.

The public bank, which is listed on the Lao Securities Exchange, announced yesterday that it had reached an agreement with China UnionPay to issue ATM cards that allow cardholders to withdraw cash from the UnionPay ATM network around the world.

The agreement was signed by BCEL Managing Director Mr Vankham Voravong and China UnionPay Managing Director Mr Xu Luo De at a ceremony held at UnionPay Headquarters in Shanghai, China, on September 27, according to a press release from the bank.

According to UnionPay, its ATM network extends to 130 countries, representing one of the largest ATM pools in the world.

BCEL and China UnionPay jointly issued the BCEL-UnionPay card in Laos in May this year as part of activities to celebrate the 50th anniversary of diplomatic relations between Laos and China.

BCEL hopes that its cooperation with the Chinese partner will encourage its ATM customers to withdraw money in foreign countries, which will boost customers' confidence in the services offered by the bank.

The bank hopes that by offering a variety of services, it will be able to attract customers and maintain its status as one of the biggest banks in Laos amid growing competition after the government began promoting domestic and foreign investment in the banking sector.

Observers said the deal between BCEL and UnionPay will not only allow Lao business operators to use their ATM cards overseas but will also enable the Bank of the Lao PDR to access information on the inflow and outflow of foreign currency.

At present, large numbers of Lao people carry cash with them while travelling abroad, creating difficulties for the state bank when it comes to managing currency supply and demand.

Established in March 2002, UnionPay is a bankcard association approved by the State Council and the People's Bank of China. At present, the Shanghai-headquartered UnionPay has about 400 domestic and overseas associate members.

UnionPay plays an essential role in facilitating financial transactions in China. It operates an inter-bank transaction settlement system through which inter-bank, cross-region and cross-border usage of bankcards issued by associate banks can be realised.

UnionPay actively collaborates with various industrial parties like commercial banks in an effort to formulate and extend UnionPay card standards and regulations, create an independent bankcard brand, promote the development and application of its bankcards, maintain bankcard market acceptance and prevent bankcard risks

vientiane times

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