Accepting mobile payments could pay off fast—and handsomely—for retailers catering to Chinese clients. According to a recent joint report from Alipay and Nielsen, retailers that adopted mobile payment options enjoyed a marked increase in sales among Chinese outbound tourists in 2018.
And, as early returns for 2019 roll in, the results are striking. Thailand duty-free shopping chain King Power had seen a 245 percent year-on-year increase in transactions through its Alipay mini-program and Accor Hotels France has seen a 511 percent spike in transactions through its. The Lunar New Year vacation binge hadn’t even begun.
Numerous destinations began expanding their transaction methods to accommodate Chinese travelers during the Christmas and New Year travel period, and the momentum hasn’t slowed in preparation for the Year of the Pig. The popular Singaporean resort of Sentosa recently went completely cashless with the help of Alipay—the island adopted the digital payments for everything from luxury retailers to food & beverage vendors to prepare for the influx of tourists. And destinations are betting that convenience will prompt more big-spending Chinese tourists to pick the stores and sites that make their life easier.
Destinations like Hokkaido, Japan, have embraced the expansion of such services to attract Chinese tourists—the plan has thus far worked. Elsewhere abroad, this year, 80 percent of merchants in Davos now accept Alipay, Chinese media outlet Sina noted. And French department store BHV Marais recently teamed up with WeChat Pay.
It’s not just retailers getting in on the act. Italian taxi app IT Taxi has teamed up with Italian mobile payment operator Tinaba to accommodate Alipay users with over 8,000 taxis in popular destinations like Rome, Milan, and Florence.
Of course, shopping habits can only be influenced by convenience to an extent, and some retailers, such as Galeries Lafayette in Paris, offer additional services such as Mandarin-speaking staff and Lunar New Year activities to lure Chinese outbound travelers. Such additional amenities can put a destination ahead of competition that just offer mobile payment options.