UnionPay, China’s largest card-payment network operator, is struggling to stay relevant in an increasingly cashless economy. Despite its recent tie-up with online retailer JD.com, the first with a third-party payment service provider, market watchers believe the partnership may not meaningfully help UnionPay regain traffic lost to QR-code-based platforms, dominated by WeChat Pay and Alipay, Caixin reports. In the first quarter, such transactions grew 113% from the same period a year ago to 2.27 billion yuan ($337 million), according to consulting firm iResearch. WeChat Pay and Alipay, owned by Tencent and Ant Financial Services Group respectively, accounted for a combined market share of 94%, with JD Finance — the payment unit of JD.com — ranked sixth with a tiny market share of 0.8%. But plastic cards are not yet a lost cause. In 2016, 115.5 billion transactions were completed with debit and credit cards, compared to 25.71 billion mobile transactions.
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