Zanzibar. The NMB Bank Plc has partnered with UnionPay International (UPI) in a landmark development that is designed and intended to see to the bank’s ATMs and Point-of-Sale (PoS) machines accepting UPI’s payment cards.
The move, which was officially launched here yesterday, will see the Dar es Salaam Stock Exchange (DSE) listed bank playing an increasingly important role in leveraging the government’s tourists’ attraction endeavors.
Data from the Zanzibar Tourism ministry shows that at least 250 million Asians, who mostly hold UnionPay cards, make holiday trips across the world each year.
Contrary to Western countries, several Asian countries have either opened up or otherwise eased their lockdown rules as the world starts to recover from the Covid-19 pandemic.
“If we get only one percent of the number of travelers from Asia, we will be fine,” said the Zanzibar Tourism minister, Mr Mahmood Thabit Kombo.
He said that, in a survey which was conducted recently, about 40 percent of tourists who visited Zanzibar, said they would be able, willing and ready to return to the Isles if the country improves its payment systems.
According to the NMB Bank Chief Executive Officer, Ms Ruth Zaipuna, the partnership means that all Union Pay cards will now be accepted at NMB’s ATMs and PoS while the e-commerce platform, which was also launched alongside the cards, will also enable hassle-free transactions among tourism players.
The e-commerce platform will see to NMB Bank merchants being enabled to accept online payments on their web sites with ease.
“With our chain of more than 1,750 PoS terminals and over 800 ATMs across the country, the service is expected to significantly benefit UnionPay cardholders,” she said.
With over 8.4 billion cards issued in 61 countries and regions, UnionPay serves the world’s largest cardholder base, according to the general manager of the UPI Africa Branch, Mr Luping Zhang.
In Africa, UnionPay is present in 50 countries with cards issued locally in 11 countries. Moreover, UnionPay has launched various innovative payment products in Africa in response to the worldwide digital transformation and financial inclusion.
Last year, Zanzibar received 528,425 tourists who earned the country a total of $421 million in foreign exchange earnings.
The amount, according to Mr Kombo, is almost the same as the entire annual budget for the semi-autonomous Indian Ocean archipelago.
Tourism accounted for 30 percent of Zanzibar’s gross domestic product (GDP) last year, and 82.1 percent of Foreign Direct Investment (FDI) inflows.