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Multilingual Alipay to enhance foreigners' e-payment experiences

BY :China Daily

UPDATED :2024-03-25

A foreigner pays via Alipay at a shop in Shanghai. (Photo/China Daily)

Alipay, the digital payment arm of Chinese financial technology company Ant Group, is allocating more resources to roll out translation services in 16 languages, to ensure foreigners in China can use mobile payments without any hurdles.

Alipay's move comes amid China's intensified efforts to further improve foreigners' payment experiences in the country.

Alipay has allowed foreigners in China to link their international bank cards, including Visa and Mastercard, to its mobile payment tool, greatly streamlining the payment processes, said Zhu Xugang, director of the cross-border business at Ant Group.

Users of 10 overseas e-wallets are also able to use their familiar home e-wallets on their own phones by scanning Alipay QR codes, to enjoy seamless mobile payment experiences across Alipay's vast merchant network.

According to Alipay, foreigners can use the app to complete payments at restaurants, hotels, scenic spots, convenience stores and supermarkets, as well as for ride-hailing, shared bikes, buses and other public transportation services in China. The newly launched multilingual app includes English, French, Spanish, German, Italian, Portuguese, Russian and Japanese.

The mobile payment app has also raised the single transaction limit for overseas travelers using mobile payments from US$ 1,000 to US$ 5,000 and lifted the annual cumulative transaction limit from US$ 10,000 to US$ 50,000.

The State Council, China's Cabinet, published a guideline on improving payment services and enhancing payment convenience in early March, a move to better meet the diversified payment needs of the elderly and foreign visitors.

Recently, the People's Bank of China, the country's central bank, has released a payment guide that provides foreigners with text and graphic instructions on using bank cards, cash, mobile payments and e-CNY in China, the latest step in the country's push to optimize the payment experience for foreigners.

Wang Pengbo, a senior analyst at market consultancy Botong Analysys, said the intensified efforts to provide convenient payment services will not only significantly improve the living and consumption experience of foreigners in China and attract more of them to the country, but also promote the healthy and sustainable development of the payment industry.

Wang said the move demonstrates the country's resolve to expand high-standard opening-up, adding the online payment scenarios of Alipay are wide enough, with high usage frequency. So, what it should do now is to expand the scope of foreign bank card binding and improve and simplify authentication of new users, to provide more convenient payment services to foreigners.

Jennifer from El Salvador, a university student in China, said she just needed to download the Alipay app and bind it with her international cards, adding the procedure was very simple, which helped her to use Alipay on her smartphone and Apple Watch for online payments. She said she can buy products, book hotels, use ride-hailing services and order takeouts with Alipay.

Dong Ximiao, chief researcher at Merchants Union Consumer Finance, said the inconvenience experienced by some foreign visitors can be mainly attributed to the differences in payment habits between China and other countries. People from Europe, the United States and other developed countries tend to use bank cards and cash more for payments, and are not familiar with mobile payments, he said.

Meanwhile, Chinese banks are taking measures to expand the acceptance of overseas bank cards and facilitate their use of cash in the country.

Dong said more efforts are needed to expand the scenarios of various types of payment methods at tourist attractions, sporting events, transportation hubs, healthcare and beauty centers and other daily consumption sites.

Editor: Pauline