Alipay, the leading third party online payment service in China, is being launched in Europe as part of the companies push to better tap into the growing number of Chinese tourists visiting the continent each year.
Run by Ant Financial, Alipay has made a deal with German card payment processing company Wirecard to allow Chinese tourists to use their existing network of point-of-sale payment terminals to accept Alipay payments for in-store purchases.
The service will be available at all stores that currently use Wirecard’s payment processing technology, with a simple software update being required to enable existing point of sale machines to accept the smartphone-based Alipay payments.
Chinese consumers are currently the top global spenders abroad, with France, Italy and the UK being the foreign countries in which they spend the most money, according to research from Global Blue.
The introduction of Alipay payments in-store will likely be beneficial to both Alipay and merchants, as offering a widely used payment platform that both has 400 million active users and is a familiar payment method to Chinese consumers will likely have a positive impact on sales.
Wirecard currently has 21,000 merchants using its payment processing systems worldwide, giving Alipay the easiest means of bringing their service to European markets, rather than having to broker individual deals with merchants throughout the region.
The move to launch Alipay in Europe is the first major push by the company to broaden its international reach into Western markets and has been accompanied by the opening of offices in Italy and the UK to help businesses sell their products and services into the Chinese domestic market more effectively.
With Alipay’s customer based being almost exclusively Chinese, the service is not a direct competitor to other third party services, such as Apple Pay, although the company is hoping that this push could see the groundwork being laid for further expansion, something which could see them becoming direct competitors to such services in the future.
“Our customers have very high trust in our brand as Alipay is an essential part of their daily life. We are therefore confident that many users will be using our new, convenient and cashless offer when travelling to Europe,” said head of Europe for Alipay, Rita Liu, in a recent press release.
Ant Financial said that it will look to continue expanding the reach and scope of the services it offers under the Alipay brand, such as their plans to integrate the sales tax refund process to make claiming back VAT easier for Chinese tourists.