Alipay, China’s biggest payments service, has struck several partnerships with BNP Paribas, Barclays, UniCredit, and SIX Payment Services as the company looks to expand its footprint and deepen its mobile-payment push into Europe.
The company controlled by billionaire and Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma is partnering with such large European institutions in order to make it easier for its 450 million active users to continue using Alipay widely across Europe. It means they can pay for their purchases in yuan using their Alipay accounts.
The size of its newest partners in Europe could bring Alipay to a considerable number of stores, with an additional 930,000 merchants set to join Alipay’s European network. The deal with Alipay will also allow the European partners to target Chinese tourists — who spent US$215 billion abroad in 2015 according to the World Travel & Tourism Council – as well as Chinese students living in Europe.
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Specifically, the unit of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba will work with BNP Paribas to facilitate Alipay payments via the bank’s merchant network in France, while Barclays will provide its users with digital ways to pay in the UK. In addition, SIX Payment Services, the pan-European payments provider, will integrate Alipay services into its payment application, facilitating POS and e-commerce payments for Alipay users throughout the SIX network. Meanwhile, UniCredit is set to launch Alipay in Italy next year.
Alipay, which is operated by Alibaba’s financial services arm Ant Financial, is a separate app on devices that allows customer to pay for their purchases in-store through opening the Alipay app, then scan a QR code provided by the retailer.
Alipay holds nearly 70 percent of China’s third-party mobile payment market share and processed more than 380 million daily transactions as of June 2016.
Douglas Feagin, Senior Vice President of Ant Financial and President of Alipay International, commented: “We are excited to be partnering with leading European financial institutions to enable our users to pay with Alipay in even more locations and scenarios across Europe. Our users’ lifestyles are increasingly global, so it’s vital we are able to work with the leading payment providers across the world to bring our trusted and convenient services to Alipay users wherever and whenever they need them.”
Rita Liu, Head of Alipay Europe, added: “The cooperation with SIX gives Alipay access to a broad merchant base across Europe: potentially Alipay users will be able to pay at 110.000 additional merchants in Switzerland and beyond. As our preferred partner, SIX takes us one step further in becoming a truly globally accepted payment system.” SIX Payment Services has a customer base of 220.000 merchants locations in Switzerland, Luxemburg, Austria, Germany and many other European countries.”