Barclaycard, the U.K. credit card and debit card payment processor, announced Thursday (March 14) it inked a new agreement with Alipay, the Chinese digital payment service operated by Alibaba’s payment affiliate Ant Financial.
In a press release, Barclaycard said that with the deal, retailers will be able to accept Alipay as a payment method for transactions in U.K. stores. The deal comes after a two-year pilot. Under the new agreement, U.K. retailers can take full advantage of the growing volume and buying power of Chinese tourists.
According to Barclaycard, in the U.K. there are 393,000 Chinese residents, 95,000 Chinese students, and scores of tourists who visit U.K. cities each year. It’s becoming an increasingly important segment for U.K. retailers, particularly as traditional ones struggle because of the growth of eCommerce. Barclaycard pointed to VisitBritain, which is projecting Chinese visitors to the country will amount to 483,000 this year, up 43 percent from 2017. The Chinese visitors are forecasted to spend more than £1 billion, marking a 50 percent increase. Chinese tourists have become one of U.K.’s top tourism markets, noted the payment company.
Retailers in the U.K. won’t have to replace their existing point-of-sale systems to accept in-store payments via Alipay. That will enable them to capitalize on increased business from Chinese visitors without having to overhaul their existing payment set up. Alipay users will also be able to search for retailers that are near their locations via the Alipay app. It will list details such as when the stores are open, directions to the stores and any deals or discounts being offered.
“Thanks to the significant investments we’ve made in our platform, our clients have access to a growing range of payment types, each of which can help them increase market share by meeting the needs of new customers,” said Rob Cameron, CEO and global head of payment acceptance at Barclaycard, in the press release. “Our new agreement with Alipay gives retailers a vital tool to help them seize the revenue opportunity posed by the growth of Chinese visitors to the U.K. At the same time, Alipay users will benefit from a more convenient and familiar in-store payments process – enhancing their overall shopping experience.”