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An Alipay sign at an Ant Group office building in Shanghai, pictured on July 28, 2022. Photo: Bloomberg

Ant Group’s Alipay+ payment service expands in Japan as tourism reopens through partnership with Universal Studios park

  • The partnership will allow the theme park to accept payments via e-wallets from China, Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand
  • The deal comes as Japan lifts a daily cap on inbound arrivals and resumes a visa waiver policy – amounting to a full reopening
Alibaba
Chinese financial technology giant Ant Group has signed a partnership that will allow tourists visiting Universal Studios Japan from several countries to use the Alipay+ mobile-payment service to make purchases.

More than 1 million merchants in Japan now accept Alipay+, according to Ant Group, which is affiliated with Alibaba Group Holding, owner of the South China Morning Post.

Universal Studios Japan theme park in Osaka will introduce Alipay+’s QR code cross-border digital payments solution, which will allow the park to accept payments via e-wallets from China, Singapore, South Korea, the Philippines, Malaysia and Thailand.

The deal comes as Japan lifts a daily cap on inbound arrivals and resumes a visa waiver policy – amounting to a full reopening. The policy shift, which started on Tuesday, comes after nearly two and a half years of pandemic entry restrictions.

A photo taken on November 25, 2020, from a Kyodo News helicopter shows Super Nintendo World, an attraction area featuring the popular video game character Mario, at Universal Studios Japan in Osaka. The area opened to the public in 2021. Photo: Kyodo
Ant Group is pushing Alipay+ as an underlying solution for payment service providers, and it already supports e-wallets operated by AlipayHK in Hong Kong, GCash in the Philippines, Touch ‘n Go in Malaysia and TrueMoney in Thailand.
On September 26 Ant Group announced a roll-out in South Korea, where users of e-wallets from those four providers can now settle transactions at more than 120,000 merchants.

Alipay+ is accepted by merchants in more than 55 countries through partner payment apps, according to the company.

Ant Group’s Alipay+ enables more payment platforms to be used in South Korea

In Japan, such e-wallet holders will be able to use their phones to pay at ticket booths, retail shops and restaurants within the Universal Studios park. In addition, Universal Studios Japan will tap into Alipay+ marketing solutions to conduct campaigns, such as coupon promotions to attract overseas visitors who are increasingly digitally savvy and prefer more customised interactions.

J.L. Bonnier, president and CEO of Universal Studios Japan, said the partnership will make it “easier for guests from Asian countries to pay with their familiar mobile payment methods through Alipay+, and it will lead to an improved shopping experience, which is part of the park’s offerings”.

Chinese companies are seeking overseas growth as domestic business continues to be dragged down by the slowing economy. Alibaba Cloud, the cloud computing arm of Alibaba, has committed US$1 billion to upgrading its global partner ecosystem. Shenzhen-based Tencent Holdings highlighted expansion opportunities abroad for its in-house game titles as well as those from other Chinese developers during its Tencent Game Developers Conference in August.

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