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Alipay Opens up E-Wallet for Foreigners in China

Chinese E-wallet platform Alipay has launched an international version for foreign users to do purchases using smartphones in China. With every business from taxi to grocery shop banking heavily on e-wallets, foreign visitors to China have had a hard time.

Alibaba owned Ant Financial Services Group runs Alipay, one of China’s two most popular e-wallet. The foreign users can use the application for three months without opening a bank account.

Prepaid Top-up Cards Needed for International Users

Bank of Shanghai will avail prepaid cards that can top up Alipay accounts. The visitors will have to do a minimum top-up of 100 yuan ($14) or a maximum of 2,000 yuan ($285) to avail the facility. Any remaining money in the account can be refunded.

The new move is part of China’s policy shift that aims at tapping international customers. The international version of Alipay is not available in Hong Kong and Macau. Hong Kong users get to use a separate version named Alipay HK.

WeChat Pay run by Tencent is the closest competitor of Alipay which has around 1.2 billion users. Tencent had recently announced a strategic cooperation with the like Visa and Master Card to link international credit cards to their e-wallets.

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There was a 4.7% increased the number of visitors to China. Annually, an estimated US$73.1 billion is spent by foreigners during their stay in China.

Alibaba-Tencent E-Wallet Battle Heats up

Alipay, launched in 2004, was the earliest entrant in the Chinese e-wallet market. Its monopoly was quickly dented by Tencent which came up with the WeChat Pay platform in 2013. Since Tencent owned China’s largest online messaging platform it could successfully battle Alipay. Apple Pay does not enjoy as much fanfare as the two Chinese giant as it entered the market late in 2016. Alipay has a strong influence in markets like Japan and Singapore. It is a major shareholder of Paytm, a leading e-wallet service in India.

Read More: Visa-Tencent Tie-up to Allow International Credit Card Users in WeChat Pay

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