Starbucks stores in mainland begin accepting Alipay

By Zhang Hongpei Source:Global Times Published: 2017/9/25 21:08:39

Alipay, the Alibaba-backed mobile payment tool, said that effective immediately, it can be used for payment in more than 2,800 Starbucks stores in the Chinese mainland, according to Alipay's official Sina Weibo account.

The payment tool was also extended to Starbucks stores in China's Macao Special Administrative Region and Malaysia as well as at Japanese airports including Narita International Airport, Kansai International Airport and Naha Airport in Okinawa Prefecture, the company said.

Starbucks and Alibaba announced on August 28 that Alipay is available for Chinese tourists at all 242 Starbucks stores across Malaysia.

Starbucks and Alipay are also jointly promoting a gift coupon for Starbucks stores in the mainland. Consumers who spend 50 yuan ($7.6) at the stores before October 15 using Alipay will get a coupon worth 5 yuan.

"Alipay will provide another alternative for our customers in terms of mobile payment, further enhancing their experience in the stores," Chen Xiaojun, a PR representative of Starbucks China, told the Global Times on Monday.

Compared with its main rival WeChat Pay of Tencent Holdings, which forged a strategic alliance with Starbucks last December, Alipay may lag behind in winning over the coffee merchant.

"As a typical scenario with a high frequency of payments, Starbucks is the ideal place for these mobile payment giants to work with," Wang Pengbo, a finance industry analyst at Analysys, told the Global Times on Monday.

"WeChat Pay might have offered more favorable items in the profit sharing of payment traffic compared with Alipay last year," Wang said, adding that WeChat's huge user base is another advantage.

According to Belinda Wong, CEO of Starbucks China, WeChat Pay accounted for 29 percent of all transactions in the first quarter of this year and it "elevated the Starbucks experience for both customers and partners through its convenience and fast transaction speed," Asian news site reported in May.

"The deal was finally nailed down after customers complained every day in the past [that they couldn't pay with the app when visiting Starbucks]," Alipay posted on its Weibo account.

Alipay is accepted in more than 30 countries and regions and supports 27 currencies, according to a note Alipay sent to the Global Times on Monday.

With the two payment giants seeking dominance, Alipay held 53.7 percent in China's third-party mobile payment market in the first quarter of 2017, while WeChat Pay had 39.5 percent, data from Analysys showed.

Apple Pay, nearly 20 months after entering the Chinese market, has not taken any meaningful share from its rivals. It still only has about 1 percent of the Chinese mobile payment market, media reports said.

"In terms of the partnership between Starbucks and these mobile payment giants, it means more to the latter as they are still striving to capture the market," Wang noted.

"For the rest of this year and in the near future, public transportation and medical care are the two main (physical) scenarios that these companies will try to enter and establish a foothold," Wang said.

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