UnionPay International and National Bank of Pakistan (NBP) have signed an agreement to jointly issue 3.5 million UnionPay cards over the next five years in Pakistan.

Currently, 70% of the ATMs and 95% of the point-of-sale (POS) terminals in the country accept UnionPay cards. Various local institutions have issued over 2.7 million UnionPay cards collectively.

NBP, which has over 1,400 branches, will issue UnionPay prepaid cards in the next five years.

Cards can be used in the UnionPay network across 160 nations and regions, and will also support UnionPay Online Payment.

Additionally, the two entities are planning to enable the bank’s more than 1,000 ATMs to accept UnionPay cards in 2016.

China UnionPay chairman Ge Huayong said that the implementation of the Belt and Road Initiative has substantially promoted UnionPay’s expansion in Pakistan. First, UnionPay’s acceptance scope is expanding rapidly, meeting the payment demand of UnionPay cardholders visiting the market.

Huayong added that Pakistan is the first market outside mainland China that has launched UnionPay mPOS service. Second, UnionPay is accelerating its localization in Pakistan. In the first half of this year, the transaction volume of Pakistan-issued UnionPay cards grew by several times; UnionPay is gaining popularity among the local residents.