Alipay Seeks Growth From Traveling Chinese

Partnerships are expanding the payment platform’s reach around the globe.

The world’s largest mobile and online payment platform, Alipay, continues to follow Chinese citizens to their favorite tourist destinations by partnering with local banks. As part of its latest partnership with Italy’s UniCredit Bank, Chinese visitors purchasing goods and services in Italy can use the same mobile app they are accustomed to using in China.

The partnership follows similar deals between Alipay and France’s BNP Paribas, Barclays in the UK and SIX Payment Services of Switzerland, opening 930,000 European merchants up to visiting Chinese.

With a population of more than one billion people, Alipay has strong domestic market potential; but its overseas push has begun with retailers in Europe, mostly in airports and tourist areas. However, Jean Noel Georges, global program director of information and communication technologies at analyst firm Frost & Sullivan, believes European citizens will move to Alipay later.

“Currently, they [Alipay] are using barcode—the simplest old-fashioned technology,” he explains. “It’s not expensive to implement and it works fine; but if they are thinking to spread their solution faster globally, maybe they need a more technical solution around NFC [near-field communication] or beacon.”