F J Benjamin and fintech company Aleta Planet have, on March 26, signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) to launch a co-branded UnionPay virtual debit card for its customers.

The card, which is the digital version of the traditional plastic card, can be downloaded on mobile phones. It is said to be safer than carrying cash or the physical card, both of which can be stolen or copied.

The card helps make shopping and payment easier for customers, in addition to offering generous cash rebates.

Payment is done via scanning a QR code for contactless payments.

The card is powered by Aleta Planet’s proprietary technology and UnionPay International’s platform.

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The FJB-Aleta Planet card can be used at F J Benjamin stores and for e-commerce transactions. Cardholders can control how much money is being transferred to or spent on the card.

The card also enables F J Benjamin customers to conduct cashless transactions in China.

Chinese tourists with UnionPay cards in Southeast Asia will find it easier to shop at F J Benjamin stores in Singapore, Malaysia and Indonesia.

UnionPay will also promote the card to all of its outbound travellers to shop at stores that accept their cards, including F J Benjamin’s.

Furthermore, F J Benjamin cardholders can remit money to UnionPay cardholders through their virtual debit card and save through direct SGD-RMB currency exchange rates.

Under the MOU, the co-brand programme is available to all of F J Benjamin’s existing customer base. The retailer will also promote the card to its new customers. Aleta Planet will issue virtual accounts to customers endorsed by F J Benjamin and extend fintech services to them.

Both parties will work to finalise a definitive agreement within 60 days.

UnionPay is owned by the association of banks in China. It is also the world’s biggest issuer of bank cards.

“We believe this virtual debit card will boost sales at our stores and offer shoppers various promotional benefits. This will also give us an amazing marketing and communication platform offering ease for digital payments to shoppers at our stores,” says F J Benjamin’s group CEO Nash Benjamin.

“FJB has traditionally been a brick-and-mortar but as technology advances and customers’ shopping habits evolve, we see the need to adopt digital means to engage them but also make their experience at our online and offline stores more convenient and safer,” he adds.

“We are delighted to partner FJB to launch our co-branded virtual debit card which will introduce new and innovative ways for an established brick-and-mortar retailer like FJB to interact with their customers digitally,” says Aleta Planet’s chairman and group CEO Ryan Gwee.

“The result is not only a new customer experience and new operational protocols, but also a new revenue stream for FJB,” Gwee adds.

As at 2.59pm, shares in F J Benjamin are trading 0.2 cent higher or 5.1% up at 4.1 cents.