Chinese payments platform Alipay has debuted an “International Version” of its app for overseas travelers to China.
The new version, announced Thursday (Aug. 17), is designed to fulfill international travelers’ mobile payment needs in China while integrating common travel services like hotel and airfare booking, ride hailing and exchange-rate checking.
According to a news release, the new version also includes services connected to the upcoming Asian Games, hosted in the Chinese city of Hangzhou this year.
After downloading the Alipay app, overseas tourists can sign up and link their international credit or debit card from Visa, Mastercard, JCB, Discover and Diners Club International to pay at millions of Alipay partner merchants across China.
Last month, Ant Group, which owns Alipay, announced that overseas users of the platform could now link Visa, MasterCard, Diners Club and Discover cards to their mobile wallets. A day earlier, rival platform WeChat announced a similar integration.
“We will continue to optimize our products and services to better serve international visitors to China by enhancing their travel experience with convenient mobile payment services,” said Yaoyao Jin, Alipay’s product lead in charge of its international version. “We also encourage more merchants and service providers operating digitally on the Alipay platform to enhance their services for international travelers.”
The launch is happening at a time when global mobile wallet use continues to grow. As noted here recently, roughly 18% of globally surveyed consumers paid for their most recent physical purchase using a mobile device, an increase of more than 0.5% year-over-year.
“The greatest increase in in-store digital wallet use occurred in the United Kingdom, with the share of in-store shoppers paying via mobile wallet increasing 549% year over year,” PYMNTS wrote. “Among mobile wallets, Apple Pay grew the most at 397% between 2021 and 2022.”
In the U.S., mobile wallet growth has been more steadily incremental as its usefulness has slowly become accepted among U.S. consumers and mobile devices increasingly replace desktops to shop.
Trust in mobile wallets has risen across generational demographics, with more than 25% of consumers believing a mobile wallet is safer than a physical wallet, and another 30% saying they are equally safe.