Alipay, China’s largest payment and lifestyle platform, has detailed its expansion plans for entering the European market to simplify payments for Chinese tourists travelling abroad; creating huge opportunity for retailers, small and microbusinesses in Europe to capitalise on a growing Chinese tourism market.
Alipay, operated by Ant Financial Services Group, made the announcement at Money 20/20, highlighting a particular focus on UK, Germany and France for its expansion strategy. Dedicated to using technology to provide inclusive financial services to individuals as well as small and micro businesses, Alipay is the world’s leading third-party payment and lifestyle platform.
With this launch, the company hopes to simplify payments for Chinese tourists utilising western businesses when travelling. In 2014, 117 million Chinese tourists travelled abroad, spending $165 billion. The number of Chinese tourists is forecast to reach 234 million by 2020, offering a vast opportunity for European retailers to connect to a new consumer base.
With 450 million active users, and more than 200 financial institution partners, the company owns more than 50 percent of the market share in online payment and 80 percent in mobile. Its mobile app is widely used for payments in online shops as well as at the point-of-sale in China. Consumers utilise Alipay via an app, which is a payment plus lifestyle platform. Users can use Alipay to book hotels, call a taxi, share a restaurant bill, share reviews, and even pay utility bills.
In addition to this, Alipay will be launching a “Local Services Platform” within the app in May, which will customise the Alipay app based on the user’s geolocation. Users will be able to see a detailed description and reviews of the shops and restaurants around them, plot a route via a bilingual interactive map, and receive customised location based offers and coupons.
Alipay is aiming to leverage this platform to collaborate with European payment companies and content service providers to provide localised services to bring even more Chinese shoppers to the merchant‘s stores, as well as provide Alipay customers more value.
“Our customers have very high trust in our brand,” said Sabrina Peng, President of Alipay International. “With this expansion users can now access Alipay in Europe, allowing them to enjoy a seamless experience when travelling. Whether it’s ecommerce or brick-and-mortar shops, we are expanding our presence internationally to enable our customers to access Alipay wherever they are.”
“From a merchant perspective, the opportunity is huge as Chinese consumers feel the most comfortable using Alipay to complete purchases. We’ve been working with partners across Europe such as Wirecard and Prestashop to help merchants – small and large – to capitalise on the opportunity to sell to the Chinese market. Currently we are focused on the U.K., France and German markets as these are the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists to shop, both online and offline,” she said.