Alipay users able to buy overseas transit cards

By Zhang Ye Source:Global Times Published: 2014-12-1 23:43:14

App can be used to obtain Singapore, Bangkok and Macau transportation passes


Swimming pool in the Pattaya Sea Sand, Thailand

Photo: IC


Alipay, the third-party online payment arm under China's e-commerce giant Alibaba Holdings Group, said Monday that Chinese tourists can purchase overseas transportation cards via the Alipay mobile application on their phones, a move to further its globalization.

The sales of Singapore's FlashPay card, Thailand's Rabbit card and Macau Pass has already been available on Alipay Wallet app from Monday, thanks to Alipay's partnership with Network for Electronic Transfers (Singapore) Pte Ltd (NETS), Bangkok Smartcard System Co, and Macau Pass SA.

Purchasers can now get local transportation cards offered by the three companies immediately after scanning the bar code at special counters in airports in those three cities, and the remainder of the money will directly deposited in their Alipay accounts in yuan when they return the cards at the airports, according to a press release sent to the Global Times Monday via e-mail.

T-money, a widely used transportation card run by Korea Smart Card Co in South Korea, will be listed on the app soon, and Alipay said it will apply such services to other countries and regions with the collaboration of local transportation card firms.

 "We are negotiating with Hong Kong's Octopus Holdings Ltd," Peng Yijie, vice president of Ant Financial's international business, said at a press conference in Beijing Monday.

Ant Financial is a spinoff of Alibaba's previous financial arm

Alipay's move came after it offered Chinese consumers a cross-border online shopping festival for Black Friday on November 28 and rolled out an overseas tax refund program in July, signifying the company's globalization ambition.

"Alipay needs to fast-track its overseas expansion, given that the domestic online payment market is maturing and the profit margin is growing at a slower pace amid fierce competition," said Wang Weidong, an industry analyst with Beijing-based market research firm iResearch.

A report by iResearch showed in early November that the transaction volumes settled via third-party online payment services in China stood at 2.02 trillion yuan ($328.30 billion) in the third quarter of the year, up 41.9 percent year-on-year, but slowing from 64.1 percent in the previous year.

Wang told the Global Times Monday that Alipay's overseas transportation card purchase service not only can further enhance its domestic user loyalty and help maintain its current leading position in the sector, but will also help the company tap the promising cross-border tourism industry.

Beijing-based China Tourism Academy forecast in a report released in October that Chinese mainlanders will make 115 million trips from the mainland to overseas countries and regions in 2014, a growth of 17.5 percent from a year earlier.

The partners expressed their confidence in the new service. Jocelyn Ang, COO of NETS, said at the conference that the availability of the NETS card on Alipay is expected to increase the ease of travel planning for Chinese people visiting Singapore.

Calls to the Beijing branch of the Singapore Tourism Board remained unanswered.

Park Young-wook, vice president of Korea Smart Card, said at the conference that he saw a trend of Chinese preferring to travel on their own, which he believed makes the overseas transportation card purchase service much needed.

Korea Tourism Organization's Beijing branch could not be reached for comment by press time.

 "Transportation is very crucial for people who travel abroad on their own. Making the transportation card purchase more convenient will surely help Alipay woo some domestic backpackers," said Wei Changren, CEO of Beijing-based Jinlü Consulting.

More people in China are preferring to go on overseas trips on their own in recent years, which the China Tourism Academy said in June accounted for 70 percent of domestic tourists going abroad in 2013.

Chinese consumers seem to have a polarized attitude toward Alipay's new service.

"Many travel agents can help me get the Hong Kong and Macau transportation cards free of additional charges before I travel," Mao Xin, a 30-year-old Beijing resident, told the Global Times on Monday.

In contrast, Li Yi, a 35-year-old Beijing resident, showed great interest.

"It's very convenient and helps me overcome the language barrier, especially when I have an unplanned tour abroad," Li told the Global Times Monday.

Newspaper headline: App can be used to obtain Singapore, Bangkok and Macau transportation passes

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