APEX Insight: Alipay is by far China’s preferred cashless, contactless payment platform – even Delta and United airlines accept it – but that hasn’t stopped other players from entering the high-stakes market of digital transactions in China.
Decades ago, cash, not credit, was the preferred payment of the Chinese. But Alipay, an online payment platform similar to PayPal, found a way to turn cold, hard yuan into digital money by linking to users’ bank accounts.
Amadeus, a tech leader in the travel industry, advised travel companies to accept Alipay if they want to capitalize on the Chinese tourism boom. Many Asia-Pacific carriers have done so for years, and recently, Delta and United have adopted the payment method, too.
But what Alipay doesn’t have is the strong social media following that local competitor Tenpay has through WeChat – China’s wildly popular messaging app with integrated payment ability. Apart from Asian carriers, Air France, British Airways, KLM and Lufthansa use the platform as a promotional tool with their Chinese customers.
And although the People’s Bank of China-affiliated UnionPay has been slow to enter the mobile payment game, it’s hoping its all-encompassing QuickPass that processes Apple, Samsung and homegrown Huawei and Xiaomi payment, will win over users in the domestic market.
As these companies eke it out in China, Alipay has its sights set on the global market, with a growing number of Chinese travelers wanting to pay with Alipay no matter where they are.Infographic: China’s Online-Mobile Payment Players
“Digital Transactions” was originally published in the October/November issue of APEX Experience magazine.