Alipay, China’s largest third-party online payment service, is teaming up with Swiss company Global Blue Corporate to offer Chinese tourists refund services after shopping in European countries, starting mid-July, as reported by Commercial Times: The Chinese company said the new service will be available at 5,000 stores in European countries such as France, Germany, Italy and England, as well as South Korea, and the number of stores will be increased in the future, according to the Swiss company.
Since the National Day Golden Week in October last year, Alipay had already launched a tax refund service for Chinese tourists shopping in South Korea. The tourists can apply for refunds by providing the phone numbers they registered with Alipay, their passport numbers and names in English and then drop their applications at a designated box in the airport after South Korean custom approves and stamps them.
Their applied refunds then are converted into Chinese yuan and transferred to their Alipay accounts in seven working days. The Chinese company sends a message to the applicants for confirmation. Shangcheng (Shanghai) commercial factoring firm charges 2% of the refund as a fee for the transaction. The process is faster than traditional tax refunds methods through cash and credit card. Tourists who want a refund in cash have to present documents, line up for an uncertain amount of time at airports and pay for a charge at a certain percentage of their refund. Those choosing to refund through credit cards need to wait between one and three months.
As of the end of 2013, Alipay had accumulated nearly 300 million users using its services under their real names and processed over 2.78 billion mobile payments worth over 900 billion yuan (US$145 billion). It has handled over 25 million mobile payments daily since March this year, making Alipay the world’s largest mobile payment company.