Catch the northern lights, watch some ice hockey — see how China’s tourists pay with Alipay in Canada and the U.S.
Part of the “Alipay and the World” series on our global partnerships, from local e-wallets in Asia to helping tourists pay with Alipay from Europe to the Americas
Chinese consumers aren’t just traveling overseas more, they’re also venturing further and seeking out fresh or exotic experiences — from viewing the northern lights in Canada, to watching ice hockey or basketball in the U.S., to jungle hiking in Mexico.
And wherever China’s holiday-makers go, the one great way to entice them to open their wallets is… for them not to use their wallets at all.
According to Nielsen, more than 94 percent of Chinese tourists prefer paying with their mobile phones when abroad. That’s drawing savvy businesses such as retail chains, hotels, and restaurants to connect with Alipay, China’s most popular digital payment service. (see Nielsen report below)
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We take a look at some of the merchants and service providers in North America who’ve jumped on the Alipay superhighway to connect with Chinese consumers.
Last month, the Capital One Arena in Washington, D.C. become the first sports venue in the world outside of China activate Alipay transactions across concessions, souvenirs, and ticketing.
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The announcement follows a sponsorship deal between Alibaba Group and Monumental Sports & Entertainment, which owns the arena as well as sports teams including the National Hockey League’s Washington Capitals and National Basketball Association’s Washington Wizards.
The NBA has long been immensely popular in China, not least due to the influence of retired Rockets star centre Yao Ming, who’s now president of the Chinese Basketball Association.
Ice hockey is also beginning to gain more Chinese fans, especially with Beijing set to host the Winter Olympics in 2022.
Elsewhere in the United States, a growing roster of merchants now accept Alipay, including retailers such as Walgreens, 7-Eleven, Sephora, Lacoste, GNC, Guess, Rebecca Minkoff, as well as Duty-Free Shops across the country.
Check out the video below of an Alipay user shopping at a Walgreens store in Las Vegas.
Hotel chains have adopted Alipay as a payment method as well, including Caesar’s Palace, Southern California hotel chains such as Luxe Hotels and Sheraton in Los Angeles as well as Airbnb.
Popular tourist attractions such as Pier 39 in San Francisco, Universal Studios Hollywood, and the Empire State Building in New York also accept Alipay. In Las Vegas, Chinese tourists can use it to pay for rides on the High Roller observation wheel, and at some restaurants. (See video below)
B-roll Handout: Chinese tourists use Alipay overseas in Las Vegas | Alizila.com
When Chinese tourists visit Yellowknife, capital of the Canadian Northwest Territories, one of their biggest aims is to catch sight of the bewitching Aurora Borealis, also known as the northern lights.
Now, they are able to use Alipay to pay for souvenirs and at tourism sites while there, and can even continue to purchase specialities from the Northern Territories through the app, even after returning to China from their visit. (Watch a video of Alipay in Canada’s Northern Territories below)
Alipay’s other Canadian partnerships include retailers such as Holt Renfrew, Harry Rosen and Sephora, as well as the 7-Eleven convenience store chain.
This February, Canada’s ClickDishes became the first mini-program on Alipay’s mobile payment platform in North America, meaning Chinese tourists can now order ahead and skip the queue at hundreds of participating restaurants in Vancouver, Calgary and Edmonton.
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Alipay is available at popular eateries in Richmond, Vancouver, at Chinese supermarkets such as Foody World, China World supermarkets, and at retail malls such as Cadillac Fairview Pacific Centre and CF Richmond Centre.
While Mexico has so far been largely off the radar screen for travellers from China, the Latin American country wants to change that, recently launching a new campaign called “Knocking at the Door” to draw more Chinese tourists.
In March, Alipay announced a partnership with Mexican online payments platfrom Openpay, allowing users to make purchases from affiliated online retailers and businesses in Mexico, and increasingly across other countries in Central and South America.
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Openpay’s clients in Mexico include multi-national e-commerce merchants and well-known travel industry leaders such as airlines, ride-sharing companies, and ticketing platforms.
What’s next? Alipay will continue to expand in retail settings across North America as we follow the footprint of the Chinese traveler. We look forward to working with like-minded retailers to best support the growing number of Chinese tourists traveling the region.