Alipay is now accessible to overseas visitors coming to China

International visitors had cited not being able to use their mobile phones to make payments as a major annoyance.

Photo: provided to KrASIA

China’s third-party online payment platform Alipay has introduced an international version of its app that has been specially designed for global travelers. This lets them pay with their mobile phones for shopping, eating, traveling and entertaining when visiting the Chinese mainland, according to a press release by Ant Financial.

Visitors need to register for the international version of the app with their overseas mobile phone number to access the “Tour Pass” mini program. With this program, they can use the prepaid card service provided by the Bank of Shanghai to top up Chinese currency. The card is valid for 90 days, after which any remaining money will be automatically refunded.

International users also need to provide their passport information and international bank cards to enable currency conversion.

The service, which spares them the effort of obtaining a local phone number and a Chinese bank account, could help Alipay lure more international users.

Alipay has served more than 1.2 billion users worldwide as at end June, according to Ant Financial chairman and CEO Eric Jing.

This new service followed a week-long informal poll conducted by Alipay on Twitter, where 220 people out of 1,240 respondents, or 18%, reported that they felt that not being able to pay with their mobile phones as the locals do was their biggest annoyance when visiting China.

A total of 30.5 million individuals from other countries visited the Chinese mainland in 2018, up 4.7% year-on-year.