Alipay teams up with European mobile wallet operators

Source: Alipay

Six prominent mobile wallets across Europe, together with Alipay, announce today a collaboration to promote QR code-based digital payment interoperability for travelers both in Europe and from China.

Bluecode, ePassi, momo pocket, Pagaqui, Pivo, Vipps and Alipay are working towards adopting a unified QR code, marking a milestone in connecting Europe’s thriving yet fragmented mobile payment landscape.

When fully realized, users of the six participating European digital wallets will be able to make QR code-based payments with their home apps to local merchants in 10 European countries where those apps are accepted. At the same time, merchants that already accept mobile payments via the six apps in their respective domestic markets will also be able to easily accept payments made by customers of the other countries covered by the collaboration. In addition, Alipay’s Chinese users can also make payments to merchants that accept these wallets.

Helsinki-based ePassi and Oslo-based Vipps have started to prepare the roll-out of this QR code format for users across several Nordic countries, while the Spanish payment company MOMO, Portugal’s Pagaqui and Austria’s Bluecode intend to extend the collaboration further later this summer in their respective home markets. Built on the back of a similar partnership announced in December between two Nordic firms, Vipps and ePassi, and Hangzhou, China-based Alipay, this open-ended collaboration is expected to continue to expand into more European countries and companies in the future.

The collaboration, the first of its kind in Europe, will bring together the six mobile wallet partners’ users, which are more than 5 million in total, and around 190,000 merchants in Europe, as well as a fast-growing number of travelers from China. In addition, as each of the participating firms grows the user base and merchant network, the growth is also beneficial to all of the collaborating firms’ merchants and users, respectively.

The partnering firms have agreed to apply a compatible QR code format provided by Alipay, the world’s most-used app outside social apps[1]. ePassi and Bluecode will offer technical services to the participating wallets to simplify the integration process among them.

"With over 12 years’ experience, ePassi is already a mobile payments front-runner in QR code-based payments in the Nordic and selected European countries. We are proud and honored to be part of this unique collaboration of European payment wallets, and to support other partners with their integration as well,” said Risto Virkkala, CEO of ePassi.

“It has always been our vison to enable European banks with a widely accepted European mobile payment offering”, said Christian Pirkner, CEO of Blue Code International. “As a payment solution provider, we naturally support this collaboration of European wallets agreeing on a technical format. Even more compelling that it is compatible with Asia’s leading lifestyle app Alipay.”

The announcement came on the heels of Alipay activating the eight-year global partnership with UEFA in Porto, where the inaugural Nations League Final just concluded. “We feel honored to help promote a smart lifestyle and digital experiences in Europe, while continuing to connect more merchants with more Chinese tourists. We believe mobile payment is a universal language that can help connect people just as football does,” said Eric Jing, Chairman & CEO at Ant Financial.

Alipay currently serves over 1 billion users with its Asia-based local e-wallets partners. Launched in 2004, Alipay has evolved from a digital wallet to a lifestyle enabler. Users can hail a taxi, book a hotel, buy movie tickets, pay utility bills, make appointments with doctors, or purchase wealth management products directly from within the app.

In addition, Alipay’s technology is being used to enable over 200 Chinese financial institutions to improve efficiency and lower operational costs. Alipay’s in-store payment service covers over 50 markets across the world, and tax reimbursement via the app is supported in 35 markets.

Nearly 60 per cent of overseas bricks-and-mortar merchants that adopted Alipay saw a subsequent growth in both foot traffic and revenue, according to a report by Nielsen earlier this year[2].

"Momo were first to process payments via mobile devices in Spain six years ago, starting in Malaga. Since then, we've expanded to also help our merchants increase their sales by accepting QR payments from thousands of Chinese tourists via Alipay." says Mariano de Mora, CEO of MOMO Group. "We are excited to see how this collaboration with other European payment wallets can bring millions of users to our merchant network here in Spain and offer our users hundreds of thousands of places to pay with their local momo app across Europe."

“This unique cooperation is a testament to how collaboration in Europe can simplify the market for businesses and users to create better outcome for everyone.” said Rune Garbog, CEO of Vipps. “We are extremely enthusiastic about new partners joining this collaboration, giving all our combined users broader possibilities for using their preferred mobile app also when travelling abroad.”

“As a Portuguese company and a stakeholder in this project, Pagaqui rejoices in the choice of venue for this announcement, and is extremely proud to participate in such an ambitious and innovative undertaking”, says João Barros, CEO of Pagaqui. "As in football, European firms can be more successful when playing together as a team. This is a real game changer for businesses and users across Europe, and we are excited to see so many partners taking part in it."

Pivo, the largest mobile wallet in Finland with over 1 million registered users, is welcoming the collaboration and the benefits it will provide to all mobile wallet customers. “Interoperability will allow us to offer a simple and unified customer experience across services and points-of-sale internationally. The collaboration will create additional value for Pivo as a service platform, and it is a welcome initiative for the ecosystem and our customers,” said Masa Peura, CEO of Pivo. 

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