Ant Financial, Alibaba's financial services arm, has entered into a memorandum of understanding with the National Payment Corporation of Vietnam (NAPAS) that will enable Chinese tourists to use Alipay when travelling across Vietnam.
Under the agreement, Chinese travellers will be able to use Alipay throughout Vietnam via NAPAS member banks and its intermediary payment service networks.
According to the Vietnam National Administration of Tourism, out of the 9.4 million travellers that visited Vietnam in the first nine months of 2017, more than 2.9 million were Chinese, constituting the largest group of travellers to Vietnam and a 147 percent increase from the same period last year.
In the future, those who hold cards issued by NAPAS' bank members in Vietnam may be able to use Alipay to make purchases across Alibaba Group's ecommerce websites, including AliExpress and Taobao.
"The collaboration with Alipay is part of our strategy to expand international cooperation and to explore new payment solutions, allowing for a better connection between the banks, the merchants/service providers and the consumers," said Nguyen Tu Anh, chairwoman at NAPAS, which provides switching and electronic clearing and settlement services in Vietnam.
Alipay, which has more than 520 million daily users globally, has been gradually expanding its presence worldwide through partnerships with local entities to enable mobile payments for Chinese tourists.
The payment service late last year entered the Australian market under a similar agreement with the Commonwealth Bank of Australia.
An agreement with payments technology company Stripe, announced in July, also meant that Alipay could accelerate its expansion into the international markets that Stripe operates in. It also allowed Stripe's merchants to tap the Chinese consumer market, which currently leads the world in mobile payments after dethroning the US in 2016 with a transaction volume of 38 trillion yuan ($5.5 trillion), according to Chinese market research group iResearch.
In October, the State Bank of Vietnam ruled that cryptocurrency, including Bitcoin, is not a legal method of payment.
Checks, payment orders, collection orders, bank cards, goods, and a select few payment instruments considered acceptable by the State Bank may still be used, but cryptocurrency is officially an "illegal means of payment".
If law enforcement catch payments being made or accepted in cryptocurrency, the parties involved can be subjected to a fine of between 150 million dong and 200 million dong, which is roughly $6,000 to $9,000.
The bank's ruling, however, does not impact mining and the use of blockchain technologies, so traders in the area can still operate so long that they do not use their proceeds to buy or sell products.
Those who continue accepting payments in cryptocurrency face heavy fines.
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