Chinese E-payment platform ‘Alipay’ goes international.

China's Alipay to be available in ten global airports

Chinese tourists can now use China’s largest third party payment platform Alipay at ten overseas airports from next month.

Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate of e-commerce behemoth Alibaba and owner of Alipay, announced on that the ten airports are in Hong Kong, Macao, Taiwan, Germany, Japan, South Korea, Singapore, New Zealand, and Thailand. These locations are the top current destinations for tourists from the Chinese Mainland.

This is a significant development for Global e-commerce and reflective of the significant increase of Chinese middle class travellers whom are making e-payments internationally for both business and leisure. Chinese tourists are a huge potential opportunity.

This is the first step of Alipay’s global expansion, said Peng Yijie, the vice president of Ant Financial’s international business, as the company has reached cooperation agreements with a number of international airports. It is expected that Chinese consumers will be able to use Alipay at 30 airports outside the Chinese mainland within the next five years.

Statistics from the National Tourism Administration show that more than 59 million tourists from the Chinese mainland went abroad in the first half of 2016, up 4.3 percent year-on-year, topping every other nation in both tourist numbers and expenditure. Developing and adapting the e-commerce infrastructure in conjunction with this is key.

This represents a clear opportunity for western brands, the Chinese greatly demand western products and for those who can afford it, physically shopping abroad is a key part of the travel experience. Integrating Alipay’s payment app into western stores is the next step. The Chinese can then pay with easily through this existing method which is likely to encourage higher expenditure.

Alipay features a QR code which can be scanned and is a linked to the third party payment platform where funds can be transferred, managed, redirected and even invested in shares and stocks.

Alipay has been expanding its overseas business in the last few years to include duty-free shops, restaurants, and shopping malls also. These developing trends are reflective of the mobile, digital revolution that has occurred in China in the last 5 years.

Benji is a e-commerce specialist based in Shanghai, China. For more information see his blog and website here.