Alipay has expanded its digital payment platform to the North American retail market.
The expansion of the platform is expected to enhance the shopping and travel experience for Chinese consumers visiting the U.S. and Canada. Currently Chinese tourists who visit North America for their shopping trips either pay in cash, or use their China UnionPay card if they are part of the fortunate few who have a Chinese bank-issued credit card.
More than three million Chinese consumers are expected to visit North America in 2017, according to the U.S. Travel Association. According to NYC & Co., 2016 saw 60.3 million tourists in New York, representing a 3.1 percent increase from the 58.5 million in 2015. The year-over-year gain was due to an increase in visitors from China, NYC & Co. said.
Consumers who choose to use their Alipay mobile wallet during the checkout process can approve the transaction either in U.S. dollars or in Chinese yuan. The Alipay lifestyle app will also allow tourists to use it to search for restaurants and shops nearby, as well as discover deals at those locations.
Souheil Badran, president of Alipay North America, said, “Chinese consumers love to shop when traveling to the U.S. and Canada, but language and payment barriers often complicate the process for many North American retailers.” He added that Alipay offers Chinese consumers a “familiar and seamless in-store checkout experience, eliminating the need for cash or international credit cards, which often carry high foreign-transaction fees.”
As part of Alipay’s introduction of the platform to North America, the company has expanded its partnership with DFS Group, the leading duty-free luxury travel retailer. Alipay’s in-store mobile payment service will be available at the DFS Honolulu International Airport store and at its downtown T Galleria by DFS Hawaii store in advance of the Chinese New Year later this month. Last year DFS made available the Alipay platform in its airport stores San Francisco International Airport, Los Angeles International Airport and the John F. Kennedy International Airport in New York.
Mike Osorio, DFS Group’s region president for North America, Mid-Pacific and Japan, said, “As the Chinese traveler continues to be an important consumer segment for us, offering Alipay mobile payments in our Hawaii retail stores is another opportunity for us to further enhance their shopping enjoyment.”
The Alipay platform is also available at the Louis Vuitton store on Fifth Avenue in Manhattan. Louis Vuitton is part of LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, which has operated the DFS Group as a subsidiary since January 1997.
Alipay, operated by Ant Financial Services Group, has over 450 million active users and 200 financial institutional partners. Ant is an affiliate of Alibaba.
The Alipay platform allows for online shopping payments, money transfer and utility bill payments, as well as offline payments. It has evolved from a digital wallet to a lifestyle “enabler” as users can hail a taxi, book a hotel room, buy movie tickets and check out wealth management services from within the app.