Alipay Opens Network to Foreign Travelers in China

The mobile payment app is convenient for short-term visitors.

November 07, 2019

HANGZHOU, China—Alipay, the China-based third-party mobile and online payment platform, is now available to international travelers in China, according to Inside Retail Hong Kong.

Alipay’s new payment app is called the “Tour Pass” and is designed for short-term overseas visitors. To use the service, travelers simply install the Alipay app and register with their overseas mobile phone number. Then, they can use the “Prepaid Card” service provided by the Bank of Shanghai. 

The minimum top up for each Prepaid Card is CNY100 (about $14), with the balance capped at CNY2000 ($285). Each card is valid for 90 days, after which any remaining funds will be refunded automatically.

Alipay, run by Alibaba-affiliate Ant Financial, and WeChat Pay, tied to Tencent’s Chinese messaging app, are the two biggest mobile payment platforms in China. Until now, Alipay had required a Chinese mobile number and bank account, so the technology wasn’t accessible to foreign tourists. Mobile payments dominate in China, and Chinese tourists often expect to use mobile payments when they travel abroad, especially in Japan, Malaysia, Singapore and Thailand.

Alipay is featured in a new NACS Ideas 2 Go video on “New Retail in China.”

The ability to use the popular mobile payment platform might come in handy when convenience and fuel retailers head to Bangkok in March for NACS Convenience Summit Asia. Go to www.convenience.org/CSA for more information and to join the mailing list for this can’t-miss event to be held March 3–5, 2020, at the Waldorf Astoria Bangkok.

Compared with China and Europe, the United States has been slow to adopt contactless mobile payments. Earlier this year, Alipay and Walgreens announced a collaboration to bring Alipay’s mobile payment platform to thousands of Walgreens locations throughout the United States. Apple Pay is expected to be the most popular mobile payment method for U.S. shoppers by year’s end, with 30.3 million U.S. users, compared with 25.2 million for the popular Starbucks payment app, NACS Daily reported last month.

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