Payments firm Tribe strikes European deal with China’s UnionPay

By Roger Baird on Monday 3 June 2019

Digital Banking

The London-based firm says it is the only European issuer processor with agreements to work with Mastercard, Visa and UnionPay International.

Payments firm Tribe strikes European deal with China’s UnionPay
Image source: Photo by Bruno Cervera from Pexels

Chinese giant card issuer UnionPay has struck a deal with start up Tribe Payments to handle its UK-based back-office processing technology.

London-based Tribe has signed the agreement with UnionPay International, the European arm of the group that has issued more than 6 billion cards in China.

The fintech firm said the move means it is Europe's only issuer processor with agreements to work with Mastercard, Visa and UnionPay International.

Tribe, founded in 2018, provides payment technology to banks, fintechs, other businesses and consumers.


Fast concepts

The London firm said its technology is built from scratch, unlike legacy payment firms, who often have to stitch together systems to provide a flexible digital service.

Tribe said this means “concepts can be delivered in days rather than weeks, pilot programs in place in weeks rather than months, and a product launch can be delivered in months instead of years”.

The start up was co-founded by chief executive Suresh Vaghjiani, a former president of Global Processing Services, who has in the past worked with such leading UK fintechs as Curve, Monzo, Revolut and Starling.

UnionPay International’s market director and head of its European arm Wei Zhihong said: “Working with innovative partners such as Tribe Payments is a key part of our expansion and growth in the European market where we are accepted by 3.3 million merchants in over 40 countries. We have the largest cardholder base in the world, working with issuers through Tribe is important to our growth.”


Legacy infrastructure

Tribal’s Vaghjiani added: “Consumers are now used to more choice and a better experience of financial products—but the fintech revolution has yet to reach other payment providers. These organisations rely on legacy infrastructure; too often that represents a compromise between speed and scale – it either takes months or years to deliver or, if delivered too quickly, will often be plagued by instability.”

However, Vaghjiani said his firm’s bespoke platform meant that “innovative payment providers no longer need to compromise between speed and scale”.

Payments processing firms have been among fintech’s greatest successes. Earlier this year, London-listed Worldpay, launched in 1997, was taken private and bought by US-based financial software firm Fidelity National Information Services in a cash and shares deal worth $43bn.

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