In an exclusive interview, Zhihong Wei, UnionPay International Market Director and General Manager of Europe Branch, tells us more about the portfolio of VIP services linking Global Blue and UnionPay to serve the Chinese market.
1. Can you tell us about the new projects and innovations UnionPay International and Global Blue have worked on recently?
UnionPay International and Global Blue have built a strong international partnership to promote Tax Free Shopping (TFS) with merchants to enhance Chinese travellers’ shopping experience.
We believe innovative products are crucial to improve UnionPay cardholders’ tax refund experience. Back in March 2017 for example, through Global Blue’s network, we implemented our early refund solution to more than a thousand merchants’ point of sales and downtown refund points around the world; allowing our cardholders to receive their tax refund in cash or onto their UnionPay account before their purchases is validated by Customs.
2. What about more local ventures, in selected European countries for example?
More locally, in France for example, our collaboration with Global Blue also takes the form of new communication and marketing ventures. Cardholders will find information and instructions about UnionPay’s tax refund services, as well as exclusive card privileges and shop offers in Global Blue’s SHOP magazine distributed in key tourist points (airports, hotels, selected shops…). Last but not least, this September, UnionPay will join Global Blue at their VIP lounge launch event in Paris to introduce UnionPay’s products and service to Global Blue’s affiliated merchants and partners.
Our Premium Cardholders（Platinum & Diamond Cardholders）are also granted access to Global Blue’s VIP lounges in Rome and Milan. Customers’ reaction has been very positive, and we are looking to spread this service across Global Blue’s other VIP lounges located in key European shopping capitals. We have at heart to maintain this level of service right until those valuable shoppers leave the country and so, still in collaboration with Global Blue, we have opened VIP lines at their refund points across 7 European airports.
3. Why is it so important to develop such relationships with Global Blue?
Our collaboration with Global Blue started back in 2007 and the company has since become our first partner to operate TFS. Collaborating with Global Blue became evident seeing that we share a common customer group, the Chinese travellers market, with similar consumption habits, a definite taste for luxury and displaying exclusive aspirations. Because of their number and purchasing power, Chinese tourists have become the most valuable origin market for the TFS industry. Being able to provide this particular group of travellers with convenient and safe payment and tax refund options became obvious.
Together, we benefit from our respective network and expertise to develop game changing solutions. Our latest collaboration serves to promote TFS further witch clients and merchants. Indeed, earlier this Summer, we extended our partnership with Global Blue by creating a platform for Chinese shoppers on our new TFS portal. This platform includes: a refund calculator and tracker, Global Blue refund offices locations as well as Global Blue’s SHOP TAX FREE card enrolment and mobile app download.
4. How do you see this collaboration with Global Blue evolve?
We are always working with Global Blue to improve the tax refund experience of our common merchants and shoppers. As of now, we are focusing our efforts on improving our portfolio of products: the mobile solution for TFS for example or simply working on offering new in-store benefits for our customers (personalization of goods…).
More than ever, we believe a hustle-free and differentiating tax refund service will upgrade our customers’ TFS experience and benefit merchant partners’ revenue.