Alipay expands its mobile app payment network in Europe to 2,000 points of sale

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2017, 2:46pm
UPDATED : Tuesday, 07 March, 2017, 11:00pm

Alipay, the mobile payments operator run by Alibaba Group affiliate Ant Financial Services, has further expanded its presence at popular European destinations for Chinese tourists, with the number of stores and restaurants accepting Alipay up tenfold from three months ago.

More than 2,000 merchants and restaurants in Europe accept payments via the mobile app Alipay, compared with just 200 at the end of November, according to Rita Liu, head of Alipay Europe.

“We follow Chinese consumers’ footprint in Europe. All the key merchants are the ones we want to work with,” Liu said during an interview on Monday in London.

In the UK, Alipay is accepted at Harrods and at 10 locations of cosmetic and skincare merchandiser The Body Shop.

Chinese shoppers accounted for about 10 per cent sales at Alipay enabled locations of The Body Shop locations during the Lunar New Year and a similar national holiday in October known as Golden Week, according to Hannah Jackson, China business development project manager at The Body Shop.

“I see three in four, or even more Chinese consumers choosing Alipay in our stores,” Jackson

said. Alipay was introduced to Harrods, along with three The Body Shops in October.

Meanwhile, Alipay will expand the roll out its real-time tax refund services to as many as 12 European airports. In February, Alipay’s refund system was introduced at three European airports, including Milan, Munich and Helsinki.

The real-time tax refund service, co-launched by Alipay and Swiss tax return services provider Global Blue, allows consumers to receive payment to their Alipay account immediately after receiving approval at the appropriate airport counter.

Separately, Alipay also provides tax refund services for Chinese visitors travelling to 23 European countries.

As part of its ongoing build out, Alipay is striving to sign up restaurants that cater to Chinese tourists as well as students who are studying abroad. About a dozen Chinese restaurants at China Town in London offer the Alipay payment option.

The Alipay inflight shopping service, firstly introduced by Finnish flag-carrier Finnair in January on flights between Helsinki and Shanghai will be expanded to include flights between Helsinki and Beijing from March, according to Liu.

Alibaba Group is the owner of South China Morning Post.