China’s leading mobile payment platform Alipay is rolling out its services in the United States with a massive expansion that isn’t really targeted at Americans.
Earlier this week, Alibaba spin-off Ant Financial signed a deal with Atlanta-based payments processor First Data which will allow over 4 million US retailers to accept payment via Alipay. While that move may seem like a competitive strike against Apple Pay, actually Alibaba’s target is more likely the millions of Chinese tourists who visit the US each year.
In recent years, Alipay has been expanding its payment services in areas frequented by Chinese tourists like Southeast Asia. Accustomed to living in a cashless society, travelers from the mainland enjoy the convenience that Alipay provides for their shopping sprees. Last year, Chinese tourists spent more than $261 billion while traveling abroad, more than double their US counterparts.
Alipay’s biggest domestic rival, WeChat Pay, also seems to have the same idea for expansion, inking a deal with Citcon, a Chinese-funded Silicon Valley payments startup, that will make its payment service available at small number of US retailers that serve Chinese tourists.
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