From ride-hailing to luxury brands, hotels and restaurants, Alipay is working to cover every aspect of Chinese tourists’ travel in the US. Alipay, a popular mobile payment platform in China, has recently partnered with Han Feng Inc, a major food supplier for Chinese restaurants and supermarkets in the US, to enable the company’s 14,000 merchants to accept payment via Alipay.
The partnership is expected to benefit both Chinese consumers and the merchants through Han Feng’s extensive reach within the Chinese consumer market with the familiarity of the Alipay platform, said Souheil Badran, president of Alipay North America.
Established in 2004 as an escrow service to address the lack of trust between online buyers and sellers, Alipay was spun off from Alibaba in 2011 and is now the payment arm of Ant Financial Services Group. It has more than 520 million active users in China and it is accepted in at least 25 countries and regions popular with Chinese tourists.
The popularity of mobile payments has been on the rise in China since the launch of Alipay and WeChat Pay, which jointly take 90 percent of China’s mobile payment market share as the daily app of Chinese consumers. Last year, Alipay and WeChat Pay enabled $2.9 trillion in Chinese digital payments, representing a 20-fold increase over the past four years, according to a report by the UN-based Better Than Cash Alliance released in April.
“Different from the traditional bank cards, Alipay is like a digital wallet – even more a lifestyle service,” said Qimei Luo, spokesperson of Alipay. “It also provides users with more information and discounts through the ‘Discover’ function within its app.”
The geolocation-based “Discover” function helps users find merchants nearby, receive promotional information and share their experiences. It also enables local merchants to better target and connect with Chinese consumers.
Last year, Alipay launched in-store payment services in the US and Canada, with the goal of “providing Chinese tourists abroad with the same convenient and seamless payment experience that they enjoy at home”, which is also a key part of Ant Financial’s globalization strategy.
A large number of merchants in the US have started to accept payments via Alipay, the company said without revealing any specific numbers. In May last year, Alipay announced a global partnership with Uber to allow Chinese travelers to request and pay for rides from either the Uber or Alipay app.
DFS Group, a major luxury travel retailer, launched Alipay at DFS San Francisco International Airport in October 2016. It is the first offline retailer in the US to provide Chinese travelers with mobile payment via Alipay. With a 12 percent increase, China continued to lead international outbound tourism in 2016.