Alipay is China's most popular digital payments service — and it just got a bit more useful for its user base. As of Tuesday (May 3), Alipay users can now tap the service to hail an Uber ride wherever they are and pay.
And that isn't just in China. Going forward, the 450 million Alipay customers can use their preferred digital payments app to hail a cab in all 69 countries in which Uber operates. Currently, riders can use Alipay in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau.
The financial deal behind the partnership remains not fully disclosed, though Uber confirms that Alipay will be a piece of each transaction it powers. The Alipay tie-in also wraps up India's Paytm.
There are very few partnerships that have the scale,” Emil Michael, Uber’s senior vice president of business, told reporters on a call - referring to the partnership as "one of the most important tie-ups Uber has ever done."
It is also a little confusing, since Alibaba (the parent of Alipay) is also an investor in rival ride-sharing services Didi Kuaidi and Lyft. With a 30-percent market share in China, Uber trails homegrown competitor Didi Kuaidi.
But abroad there is no Didi Kuaidi yet — and though there are more Chinese nations hitting the international scene, not many of them have credit cards. Alipay customers will, for the first time, be able to pay for rides in the U.S. and around the world in Chinese yuan rather than needing a dual-currency credit card, Uber said.
Zhen Liu, Uber China’s senior vice president of corporate strategy, said that the number of Uber rides taken by Chinese travelers during Lunar New Year was 10 times what it was than during previous year.
“We believe we’re just getting started,” Ms. Liu said. “This partnership is critical to our continued China strategy.”