Alipay to go global with Chinese tourists

Updated 2017-09-28 10:30:52 CGTN

With the "Golden Week" national holiday around the corner, Alipay, one of China's major mobile payment platforms is looking to take advantage of the upcoming travel boom by going global via China's outbound tourism.

Together with partners from the tourism and retail sectors, Alipay unveiled its plans for "smart tourism" on Tuesday, with technology expected to play a role in helping tourists apply for visas online, recommending local shops and businesses and assisting with tax refunds.

Considering the growth of Chinese tourist numbers and their spending, it comes as no surprise that the market is rushing to meet their needs.

10 percent of global tourists are now Chinese, at a time when many countries are adopting tourism into their national development strategies, said Xu Jing, regional director for Asia and the Pacific at the World Tourism Organization (UNWTO), at a smart tourism summit held by Alipay on Tuesday in Beijing.

Chinese tourists' high expenditure levels when traveling make them a target market for many countries.

Chinese tourists spent more than holiday-makers from any other country in 2016, paying around 261 billion US dollars, more than double the outlay of US tourists, according to the UNWTOs' annual report.

With such a large existing market and ever-increasing potential, Alipay has entered agreements with a wide range of partners in the tourism industry, including regional government travel bureaus, travel agencies and airlines.

The mobile payment tool can now be used in more than 30 countries and regions, 24 of which offer tax refund services through the platform, according to data from Alipay.

In addition to going abroad with Chinese tourists, the payment platform's other major globalization strategy is to invest in or cooperate with local partners, Alipay told CGTN on Wednesday, noting that instead of promoting Alipay to foreign users, the company is focusing on supporting local platforms to serve local users.

Ant Financial Service Group, which owns Alipay, has invested in India's mobile payment platform Paytm, South Korea's K-Bank and the Philippines' financial venture Mynt.

However, the US has proved a tougher market to crack, a common struggle shared with other Chinese companies.

Ant Financial is expected to make a third attempt at obtaining US approval for its 1.2 billion US dollar takeover of online money transfer platform MoneyGram International Inc.

However, a panel operating under the guise of "national security" is throwing up hurdles for Chinese investors looking to buy US companies, Bloomberg reported on September 16, citing an anonymous source.

"We are not commenting on the CFIUS (US Committee on Foreign Investment) process, but we are continuing to work with various regulatory agencies and remain focused on closing the transaction by the end of the year," Ant Financial told CGTN on Tuesday via e-mail.

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