China / Society

Alipay gains foothold in Thailand at convenience store chain

By Zhao Yanrong in Bangkok (China Daily) Updated: 2016-05-02 08:37

Chinese travelers can now make purchases at Thai 7-Eleven convenience stores using the Alipay app on the smartphones at 9,000 Counter Service cashiers - with no transaction fees.

The cross-boarder mobile payment service partnership was announced on Saturday night in Bangkok and began on Sunday.

"Chinese travelers need many things when they land in a foreign country, such as food, drinks, mobile sim card. ... They may not have had the opportunity to exchange renminbi for the local currency before they have to make a purchase. Alipay wants Chinese tourists to enjoy the kind of convenience they are used to in their home market," said Jia Hang, executive director of the global strategic partnership department at Ant Financial, the parent company of Alipay.

"We are also providing 7-Eleven stores with various marketing tools to reach their Chinese customers," said Jia, adding that Alipay is also considering launching a car-hailing service in Thailand that targets Chinese travelers.

China has been the biggest market source for Thai tourism since 2012, according to the Tourism Authority of Thailand. Last year, Thailand welcomed 7.9 million Chinese tourists, 27 percent of all international arrivals.

Chinese travelers spend 6,400 baht ($183) per person per day in Thailand, compared with an average tourist spending of 5,690 baht per day. The local tourism authority is expecting to host 8.8 million Chinese travelers by the end of the year.

"Cross-boarder services in the mobile payment industry often face various challenges in local markets. But with the large and increasing number of Chinese travelers, particularly more young and individual travelers, we are confident in developing our business in Thailand, even if the new method of payment has not been well accepted by Thai people," Jia said.

Chinese mobile payment services have expanded quickly in Thailand over the past two years. In August, Alipay began online shopping service for Chinese customers at Thailand's largest duty free shop, King Power. Other mobile payment services affiliated with China's WeChat and Baidu also started their business in Thailand at the beginning of this year.

"Convenient payments like Alipay will effectively stimulate Chinese tourists spending in Thailand. This will also benefit SMEs that distribute souvenir products for Chinese tourists in 7-Eleven stores," said Weeradej Ackapolpanish, vice-president of Counter Service, a leading payment service company in Thailand.

(China Daily 05/02/2016 page2)

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