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Mobile payments

Alipay aims to have 1m offline partner merchants globally within three years

Mobile payments giant raised US$4.5 billion in April from investors to bankroll its global expansion

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 07 July, 2016, 7:29pm
UPDATED : Thursday, 07 July, 2016, 10:44pm

Alipay, the financial arm of Alibaba Group, is hoping to expand its global presence tenfold by partnering with one million offline merchants over the next three years, and allowing Chinese tourists to spend money abroad using its mobile wallet.

With over 450 million users, Alipay is China’s dominant mobile payments service, claiming around 62 per cent of the market last year, according to research company iResearch.

Users are able to link their bank accounts to the service and make purchases in-store by having a cashier scan a QR code within the Alipay app.

In April, it raised US$4.5 billion from investors to bankroll its global expansion, with the deal valuing the company at US$60 billion.

By partnering with the million merchants over the next three years, Alipay said in a statement on Thursday that over 200 million Chinese users will be able to pay with Alipay even, when they are abroad.

Our users at home in China are comfortable with using Alipay in their everyday lives. We want to extend the convenience to our users when they travel abroad.
Sabrina Peng, vice president of Alipay International

“Our users at home in China are comfortable with using Alipay in their everyday lives,” said Sabrina Peng, vice president of Alipay International.

“We want to extend the convenience to our users when they travel abroad.”

Alipay first rolled out cross-border payments last year, allowing Chinese tourists with an Alipay account to pay at 70,000 overseas merchants with the app.

About 17 per cent of the merchants are situated in Southeast Asia, the company said, where destinations such as Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand are popular among mainland tourists.

The company’s ambitious plans pit it against the likes of Apple Pay and Samsung Pay.

Eligible Apple and Samsung users are able to link their credit cards to the respective mobile wallets to make purchases either online or offline at supporting merchants.

Both services are already available in China as Apple and Samsung battle Alipay and Tencent-backed Tenpay for a slice of the fast-growing Chinese mobile payments market.

China is currently the world’s largest mobile payments market, processing US$235 billion in 2015, according to data by Euromonitor International.

Alipay’s main rival in China, Tenpay, also rolled out overseas payments last year for its popular WeChat Wallet service. The mobile wallet, which is built into the messaging app WeChat, lets its users make payments in over 20 countries in a variety of currencies, including the Japanese yen, New Zealand dollar and Korean won.

A report by the World Travel and Tourism Council found that Chinese tourists spent US$215 billion abroad in 2015, making them the biggest spenders globally.

Outbound Chinese travellers whose household income exceed US$20,000 a year are expected to almost double their spending to US$255.4 billion in 2025, up 86 per cent from US$137 billion in 2015, according to a study by Visa.

Alibaba Group owns the South China Morning Post.

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