Alipay, the world’s largest online and mobile payment platform, recently announced an upgraded smart outbound tourist service platform at a meeting of ecosystem partners from over 20 countries and territories in Beijing, China.
The platform connects Chinese tourists with merchants, airports, travel agencies and other Alipay partners, giving users access to intuitive local offers and services, and merchants the ability to target potential clients.
“With 98% of outbound Chinese tourists owning a smartphone, there is a clear opportunity for a mobile- based ecosystem to deliver a truly 21st Century travel experience,” said Carl Su, a VP at Ant Financial Services Group which operates Alipay.
“Alipay’s smart tourist service platform connects all kinds of overseas merchants with the right Chinese tourists, even before they depart. Merchants find that our digital platform lowers marketing cost and improves conversion rate, while tourists find that access to local services and products is easier than ever before.”
In Singapore and Finland, for example, Chinese tourists can now enjoy local experiences by relying only on their smartphones. Over 80% of Singapore’s taxis provide Ali- pay as a payment option.
Alipay is also accepted at over 2,000 merchants, including Wildlife Reserves Singapore, Universal Studios Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa, Singapore Zoo, department stores under Metro and Robinsons, and a series of hawker centres. Instant tax refunds via Alipay will soon be available at Changi Airport, Singapore.
In Finland, Chinese tourists can use Alipay to shop in-flight, on cruises and pay for saunas. The payment experience starts when a Chinese tourist books his or her flight ticket and hotel room online, and continues with shopping on Finnair flights between China and Helsinki.
On the ground in Finland, Chinese tourists can access everything from bus trips and sightseeing in Helsinki to shopping, dining and even meet the Moomin in Naantali or Santa Claus up in Lapland.
Alipay’s outbound service platform allows users to download merchants’ coupons before or during their trip. Over 160,000 coupons are downloaded by users every day, among which 60% are redeemed when users pay via Alipay overseas.
Based on analysis of user preferences, Alipay recommends nearby merchants and even tips on itineraries. By paying with Alipay, users gain Alipay membership points that can ultimately gain them access to anything from better exchange rates and discount rates, to VIP lounge access at the airport, the company said in a statement.
The outbound tourism service platform also allows merchants and travel agencies to keep in touch with their customers online after the trip.
In September, Alipay signed memoranda of understanding with Finpro, Svensk Handel and Scandinavian Tourist Board to promote Alipay’s smart tourism solutions to local merchants across the highly cashless Nordic countries.
Alipay and the Singapore Tourism Board have also started to cooperate in the areas of data, marketing, services and products, which will deliver benefits to both Chinese tourists and local merchants in the near future.