Chinese payments behemoth Alipay has used the Money2020 conference in Copenhagen to announce its official expansion into the European market.
The platform, operated by Alibaba's Ant Financial Services Group, says the push into European markets will make it easiers for Chinese tourists to interact with Western merchants when transacting overseas.
In 2014, 117 million Chinese tourists travelled abroad spending $165 billion. This is forecasted to reach 234 million tourists by 2020, offering a vast opportunity for European retailers to connect to a new consumer base.
In its home market, Alipay currently claims 450 million active users, and more than 200 financial institution partners. The company owns more than 50% of the market share in online payment and 80% in mobile.
As part of the move into Europe, Alipay will be launching a “Local Services Platform” within the app in May which will use geolocation to provide users with a detailed description and reviews of the shops and restaurants around them. Subscribers can plot a route via a bilingual interactive map, and receive customised location based offers and coupons.
Sabrina Peng, president of Alipay International, says: “From a merchant perspective, the opportunity is huge as Chinese consumers feel the most comfortable using Alipay to complete purchases. We’ve been working with partners across Europe such as Wirecard and Prestashop to help merchants - small and large, capitalise on the opportunity to sell to the Chinese market."
In November, Alipay announced a partnership with Wirecard which allows Chinese users to pay with their smartphone and Alipay app at authorised POS retailers in Europe by using integrated barcode payment functionality from Wirecard, without the hassle of incurring currency exchange fees.
Peng says the business opportunity is currently focused on the UK, France and German markets as these are the most popular destinations for Chinese tourists to shop, both online and offline.