Chinese tech giants facilitate mobile payments for overseas tourists
Alipay and WeChat Pay, China's two major payment apps, recently allowed foreign users to link international credit cards to their platforms, a move that will provide great convenience to foreign travelers in China's cashless society.
International travelers can link their foreign cards including Visa and Mastercard to the app with a few simple steps, which will allow them to use their smartphones to pay merchants across China, from shops and restaurants to transport providers, according to Jin Yaoyao, a manager of Alipay's international products.
"We hope that more and more overseas consumers will be able to experience the mobile payment scenarios in China," Jin said.
China's mobile payment has seen a leapfrog development since mobile apps became the predominant payment method in the country, triggering a boom in e-commerce.
Previously, overseas tourists were required to have a Chinese bank account and link it with the digital payment platforms in order to avail mobile payment, which created inconvenience for those visiting China for short-term trips or business purposes.
Alipay and WeChat Pay, owned by Ant Group and Tencent respectively, have also introduced several preferential policies to enhance the payment experience for international tourists, such as exempting transaction fees for payments below 200 yuan (about 27.85 U.S. dollars).
"It can be quite easy to link my Visa credit card. It has avoided the awkward moment of asking my local friends to pay and giving them paper money," said Louis, a French traveler in north China's Tianjin Municipality.
As China is hosting various international events this year, such as the Chengdu FISU World University Games and the Hangzhou Asian Games, the number of inbound visitors is expected to rise.
Allowing international travelers easier access to mobile payment networks can enhance their experience in China for business and travel purposes, and create a more favorable external environment for economic openness and high-quality international circulation, said Zeng Gang, director of the Shanghai Institution for Finance and Development.
China's mobile payment market is one of the most advanced in the world. Non-cash payments handled by Chinese banks continued stable expansion in 2022, with electronic payments sustaining growth momentum, a report from the People's Bank of China said.
Non-cash payments via bank cards, electronic payment vehicles, commercial papers, credit transfers, and other settlements, hit 4,805.77 trillion yuan last year, up 8.84 percent year on year, according to the central bank report.
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