Starting on February 9, Singapore and China will implement a 30-day reciprocal visa-free travel arrangement.
In anticipation of returning visitors, UnionPay International (UPI) has been actively enhancing its merchant acceptance and service capabilities to create a more seamless payment experience for these tourists and businessmen while visiting Singapore.
Singapore remains the top travel destination for Chinese tourists according to studies. Another report shared that the new visa-free announcement became the top trending item on China’s social media platform Weibo drawing over 290 million views and online flight searches out of China to Singapore rose to 340% after the announcement.
This was unsurprising given that Singapore was always a popular travel destination for Chinese tourists pre-pandemic.
Payment habits have changed. According to industry research, card usage remains the most used in-store payment followed by digital wallets in Singapore.
Projections for 2026 indicate that digital wallet usage is expected to account for the majority of e-commerce and in-store transaction value in the Asia-Pacific region.
In Singapore, scanning UnionPay Quick Response (QR) code for payment is becoming more popular for residents, with close to 5.5 million tokens linked to top Singapore’s e-wallets or mobile banking apps that are enabled with UnionPay QR Code.
This shift towards mobile payments is not exclusive to Singapore but is observed across various parts of South East Asia, aligning with the accelerated adoption of smartphones in this region.
In 2023, over 30 e-wallets/mobile banking apps in South East Asia support UnionPay QR code and there are a total of 2.7 million QRC merchants in South East Asia enabled for UnionPay’s e-wallet/app and well equipped for partners’ usage.
To cater to changing payment habits, UPI has been enabling merchants in all categories across Singapore for UnionPay QR codes and contactless card acceptance.
Since 2023, there have been a total of over 48,000 QR Code touchpoints within UnionPay’s merchant acceptance network in Singapore. Merchant categories include retail, food & beverage, places of interests, and more.
Travelers visiting Singapore can now conveniently scan UnionPay QR Code for payment at popular tourists’ locations such as shops at Singapore Changi Airport and Jewel, ION Orchard, Marina Bay Sands and more.
UnionPay also has an estimated 95% contactless card coverage in Singapore. Apart from UnionPay QR Code, visitors to Singapore can also enjoy seamless cashless payment with their UnionPay cards as they shop, dine, and enjoy the sights, sounds and experiences in Singapore across hotels, tourist attractions, shopping malls, supermarkets, seafood restaurants and local delights which are popular with tourists.
“We understand that it might be troublesome for some to carry clunky currency when travelling abroad, especially when ease and convenience are key considering factors for visitors,” said Carine Low, Singapore Country Manager of UnionPay International.
“Therefore, we continue to enhance the payment experience for customers in Singapore so that visitors from China and all markets enjoy fast, seamless and secured payment when making their purchases with UnionPay during their visit to Singapore,” she said.