Alipay Launches New International E-Wallet For Foreign Visitors To China

Daniel Fowler
November 6, 2019

According to a report on the South China Morning Post, Ant Financial Services Group "will give foreign visitors to the mainland" access to Alipay. Visitors can top up the card in Chinese yuan via with their usual credit or debit card.

The company will introduce an application that will enable short-term visitors to China to make payment for online purchases through its so-called global e-wallet for the first time ever, the statement said.

Previously, the Alipay app required users to have an account with a Chinese bank.

WeChat Pay will begin with a pilot program to test purchases using overseas credit cards on railway ticketing platform 12306.cn and Chinese ride-hailing service Didi Chuxing.

The move will open the door for Ant Financial to tap into the growing visitors market. It added that tourists also were spending more across various sectors such as hospitality, shopping, and food, forking out 5.1% more a year ago to hit $73.1 billion.

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But Ant Financial might have come up with a solution.

On Tuesday, WeChat Pay's rival Alipay introduced a foreign card workaround for mobile payments which allows tourists to link foreign bank cards to an online prepaid card service provided by the Bank of Shanghai.

The Alipay mobile app for global users comes with some restrictions. The minimum top-up for each card is 100 yuan, with the balance capped at 2,000 yuan.

The card is valid for 90 days, and any balance will be refunded after.

Foreign access to Alipay, however limited, could shake up the competitive dynamic with Visa and Mastercard, the United States card-network giants that have always been shunned by the Chinese government.

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