MILAN — They aim to please: online payment service provider Alipay and international shopping firm Global Blue are collaborating to simplify value-added tax reimbursements for Chinese tourists. Instead of having to fill out numerous forms by hand, customers will be able to receive refunds directly in their Alipay accounts starting July 8 at 5,000 Global Blue retail partners, including Harrods in the UK, KaDeWe in Germany and La Rinascente in Italy. Participating countries also include France and South Korea, and more are expected to join by the end of the year.
“Chinese shoppers are our biggest spending nationality, spending on average 815 euros [about $1,108 at current exchange] per transaction based on their VAT refunds processed with us,” said Global Blue chief executive officer David Baxby. “With the United Nations World Tourism Organization estimating the number of Chinese tourists to double to 200 million by 2020, it is essential we continue to anticipate their needs and offer a hassle-free tax refund experience.” He noted that Alipay users would still be able to opt for credit card or cash reimbursements.
Alipay president Sabrina Peng said, “We are confident that this cooperation will create a more enjoyable and convenient overseas shopping experience for Alipay customers.”
For the sixth consecutive year, Chinese tourists are the biggest tax-free shoppers in Europe, according to Global Blue data, which also showed a 20 percent year-on-year sales increase in 2013. Chinese tourists account for 27 percent of Global Blue’s tax refunds.
Headquartered in Switzerland, Global Blue is present in 43 countries and works with over 270,000 international retailers. Alipay, launched in 2004, is part of the Alibaba Group and allows individual shoppers and businesses to make secure payments online and on mobile phones.