Chinese Tourists Driving New Wave of Mobile Payment Adoption

In 2017, China became Singapore’s top market for both tourism receipts and visitor arrivals, contributing 3.2 million tourists. As one in a series of parallel moves seen worldwide, mobile payment provider Alipay also launched it’s payment platform to allow Chinese tourists to pay in the way they know best.

Alipay is China’s largest mobile and online payment platform, with over 520 million active users. Alipay has evolved from a digital wallet to a lifestyle enabler where users can hail a taxi, book a hotel, buy movie tickets, pay utility bills, make appointments with doctors, or purchase wealth management products directly from within the app.

With mobile payment already dominant within China it is naturally gaining momentum as the Chinese travel overseas. According to a recent Nielsen report, 65% of Chinese tourists used mobile payment platforms during their overseas travels, in comparison to only 11% of non-Chinese tourists.

Nielsen Outbound Chinese Tourism and Consumption Trends

China is just back from the two-month-long 2018 summer holiday, during which millions of Chinese travelled abroad for pleasure. With Alipay’s growing presence outside of the Chinese mainland, Alipay overseas spending skyrocketed, with the platform processing 2.6 times as many in-store overseas transactions this summer as compared to 2017.

Asia continued to dominate the list of Top 10 countries and regions in terms of summertime overseas Alipay transactions. Hong Kong topped the list, followed by Thailand and South Korea.

In Singapore, the average spending per Alipay user was 1759.13 RMB (approx. 352.35 SGD) in the summer of 2018. This was a 32% average increase in spending per Alipay user and a 320% total increase in spending for the same period in 2017. The number of Alipay transactions in Russia also increased by over 5000%, as Chinese travellers flocked there in July for the FIFA World Cup.

Of the 80+ airports that support instant tax refunds via Alipay, airports in South Korea recorded the highest amount of tax refunded, followed by airports in Europe.

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