Foreign visitors in China finally will be able to use Alipay to pay for goods and services, marking the first time that Alibaba has opened up access to its e-wallet outside of its user population. Previously available only to consumers with a Chinese bank account and local mobile number, an international version of Alipay can be downloaded and used in mainland China over a 90-day period.
This variation was designed specifically for international travellers, who would have to register with their overseas mobile number to access the Tour Pass function on the e-wallet, said Alibaba's fintech unit Ant Financial in a statement Tuesday. They then will be able to use their credit or debit cards to load funds, in Chinese yuan, onto a prepaid card service provided by the Bank of Shanghai, according to the Chinese e-commerce giant.
The minimum amount Tour Pass users would have to top up is 100 yuan, with the balance amount limited to 2,000 yuan. Any remaining funds left at the end of the 90 days will be refunded.
Foreign visitors can download Alipay on Google Android and Apple iOS devices.
The e-wallet currently supports more than 1.2 billion users and can be used to pay for a range of services in-app, including taxi rides, hotel room bookings, and movie tickets, said Alibaba.
The move to open up access to Alipay will enable the Chinese vendor to tap a market potential of 30.5 million international visitors who travelled to China last year. This figure was 4.7% higher than 2018, according to Ant Financial, citing government stats. It added that tourists also were spending more across various sectors such as hospitality, shopping, and food, forking out 5.1% more last year to hit $73.1 billion.
The world's top 10 mobile payments adopters are in eight Asian markets including Indonesia, Singapore, and the Philippines, with China leading the pack with 86% of its population tapping mobile payments. According to PwC's Global Consumer Insights Survey 2019, Vietnam was the fastest-growing global market in mobile payments, clocking a 24% climb from last year, with 61% of its consumers tapping such services.
Vietnam is the fastest-growing in mobile payments, clocking a 24 percent climb from last year, with 61 percent of its consumers tapping such services. Globally, China leads with 86 percent of its population tapping mobile payments, followed by Thailand at 67 percent.
Achieving scale is critical to ensure the viability of mobile payment systems and there needs to be regulatory and industry alignment across Asia-Pacific, as well as globally, for such payments to hit mainstream.
Alipay, the mobile payment arm of Alibaba Group, has identified popular overseas destinations where Chinese consumers are making payments without cash during a recent week-long holiday.
A year after Alibaba acquired a controlling stake in e-commerce operator Lazada, the latter's payment platform is rebranded to Alipay across four Southeast Asian markets including Singapore and Indonesia.
Asia-Pacific e-commerce market is projected to grow 12 percent annually to hit US$2.1 trillion by 2021, as digital payments such as mobile wallets and bank transfers gain traction among shoppers.