China's financial burden has haunted tourists overseas as its home market is overcrowded. Ant Financial, Alibaba's $ 100 billion financial company now plans to conduct its virtual wallet transactions at 3,000 Walgreens stores in the US, reaching 7,000 locations.
The alliance will make it Breezier for Chinese tourists who would like to pick up vitamin supplements and cosmetics from the pharmacy giant to eliminate the hassles of transporting money. There is also an economic incentive as Alipay and its payment partners typically charge lower foreign transaction fees than credit card companies.
Walgreens products are already available to Chinese buyers through Alibaba's Tmall online marketplace, which connects customers with brands. It competes with JD.com to provide high quality overseas products to more and more demanding consumers in the country.
According to a Nielsen report released last year, more than 90 percent of Chinese tourists said they would use mobile payment abroad if they were given the option. Digital payment has become the norm in China's urban centers, and leading politicians are planning to repeat this cashless omnipresence among villagers by 2020, announcing a series of new policies this week.
Ant Financial continues its aggression in North America despite a large scale fiasco last year, when the US government slashed its $ 1
Digital payments are particularly popular with outbound tourists, many of whom come from smaller Chinese cities and may not own international credit cards. According to a recent report by Ant, the number of people from third and fourth-grade cities using Alipay overseas increased 230 percent in the last Lunar New Year.
"This really underscores how mobile payments are gaining ground in China's outbound tourism market," said Janice Chen, head of operations at Alipay's cross-border unit. Overseas travelers born between 1960 and 1979 also grew strongly last week.
Alipay's strong presence in North America is also focused on Canada. In one case, guests in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton – destinations that attract many Chinese tourists and students – can now use Alipay to order food and skip restaurant lines. The setup comes from a deal between Ant Financial and the Canadian food startup ClickDishes.
Alipay's arch rival WeChat Pay has also played his muscles abroad. To chase Chinese tourists, the Tencent-held wallet recently lobbied to Japan through a partnership with the chat app line. In Hong Kong and Malaysia, WeChat has been trying to gain a slice of the local payment market by running localized versions of the wallet and luring money at users. During the new lunar year, WeChat Pay has picked out millions of digital hongbao packages – red packages filled with cash traditionally distributed during the festive season – to users in these two regions.