The East comes West—that would be Alipay gaining payment acceptance at major UK tourist sites. As the Essential Retail article reports, Chinese tourists will be able to take advantage of using their familiar QR Code-based Alipay mobile app to pay at locations throughout London.
Alipay’s growth in Europe has received a boost after Merlin Entertainments – the company that runs popular tourist attractions such as the Coca Cola London Eye – started accepting the popular Chinese payment platform. Visitors to the Eye and its accompanying River Cruise, as well as Madame Tussauds London, Sea Life London and the London Dungeon, can pay for tickets and souvenirs using Alipay’s app.
Merlin will also introduce push notifications through the mobile app to help Chinese tourists find nearby attractions, and receive personalised promotions. Alipay users with higher membership level will also receive preferential foreign exchange rates, according to a joint statement from the businesses.
Tao Tao, business development director for Alipay EMEA, and a speaker at this year’s RBTE payments conference, commented: “Alipay is focused on enabling Chinese tourists to experience seamless travel – from the moment they book their flight, through to their transport, shopping, eating and entertainment during their trip.
Alipay is already available for Chinese visitors to pay at bricks-and-mortar shops in 18 European countries, and its tax-refund service is supported at airports in 76 European airports. UK retailers currently accepting this payment method include department stores Harrods and Selfridges, as well as health food and supplements retailer Holland and Barrett.
Targeting highly frequented global cities and sights for Chinese tourists is exactly the approach that Alipay has taken for its marketing strategy outside China. Large merchants and entertainment attractions in locations such as London and Las Vegas fit the bill exactly for Alipay and its legion of travelling users. Throw in contextual commerce applications with push notifications, as seen in London, and it will not be surprising to find more Western merchants accepting Alipay sooner than later.
Overview by Raymond Pucci, Associate Director, Research Services at Mercator Advisory Group