The Abacus

Alipay Now Open to International Visitors to China

By: ACBC National

Alipay, the popular payment app owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, can now be accessed by international travelers in China.

In a move that will provide visitors with access to the digital method of payment that has become a way of life for Chinese consumers, foreign visitors to China are now able to load funds from their home country bank accounts onto Alipay’s new international e-wallet.

Visitors will need just an overseas phone number, a visa and their bank card to sign up for Alipay’s Tour Pass mini-program. They can top up multiple times in increments of as much as RMB2,000 ($285) using a prepaid card from the Bank of Shanghai. Access to Tour Pass lasts 90 days with leftover funds refunded automatically.

Previously, non-Chinese residents required a local Chinese phone number and an official Chinese bank account to transfer funds and load onto the Alipay app.

With so much of China’s economy and consumer life interwoven via e-commerce and mobile phone applications, foreigners visiting China can use the service to not just make offline payments but also hail cars, hire bikes, purchase train tickets and book hotels, among other features available within the Alipay app.

According to Alipay, the move was sparked by a growing number of inbound tourists to China, which increased 4.7% over the past year. These tourists are also spending more, with expenditure in areas such as hotels, shopping, and food rising 5.1% to a total of US$73.1 billion last year..

Today, together with its local e-wallet partners in Asia, Alipay is used by more than 1.2 billion users.


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