Alipay and Tencent announced on Tuesday to support international credit and debit cards payment, enabling wallet-free travels for tourists in China, as regulatory authorities required.
Alipay, backed by Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA) through Ant Financial Services Group, said on its official twitter that QR code by the cashier will no longer be a foreign sight.
The company said in its official website that users need to download the new international version of its mobile payments app, which was launched on Tuesday, and register to be a qualified user with personal information. Short-term visitors can then pay for online purchases through its Alipay platform through a mini program named TourPass with Bank of Shanghai, a local commercial bank.
Those visitors can buy prepaid 90-day cards with foreign cards like Visa or Mastercard, Japan’s JCB and Singapore’s Diners Club card. After the card expires 90 days later, the balance will be returned to the credit card or debit card account automatically.
“Thanks to China's open financial technology market and innovative partners, we are delighted to see that we can help more foreign friends enjoy safe and convenient mobile payments,” Xiandong Jin, the chief executive officer of Ant Financial, said in fintech forum of a trade fair in Shanghai, China International Import Expo.
Another Chinese mobile payment platform, WeChat Pay, operated by tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd. (HKEX: 0700), initiated the international online payment service on the same day. Its five partners include Visa, Mastercard, AmericanExpress, Japan’s JCB and Discover Global Network with Singapore’s Diners Club.
WeChat, actually, has already enabled overseas users to purchase railway tickets with Visa, Mastercard and JCB for limited merchants like JD.com, Ctrip.com in 2008. WeChat Pay said it has already supported overseas users with mainland bank cards, savings cards and credit cards from up to 128 available banks registered with their passports.
Both the online payment platform claimed they offer the service under the guidance of China’s central bank, the People's Bank of China in the statement. “The Chinese government has introduced a variety of policies to bring convenience to their daily lives,” WeChat Pay said on Wednesday in its official social media account of Tencent Financial Technology.
Earlier on, users are required to open a bank account in China if he or she wants to use Alipay. "This is extremely inconvenient for foreign tourists who are only stranded in China for a short period of time, because foreigners who do not live for a long time are in principle unable to open bank accounts, " Moriyama Hiroyuki, a Japanese journalist from Industrial and Economic Newspaper said in June.
“Visa believes this is a great step forward, both for consumers traveling to China and the overall payments industry. In a truly global commerce environment, collaboration is essential to provide consumers with a seamless payments experience,” the California-based payments technology company said on Tuesday on its twitter through its news arm.
Shares in Alibaba were trading on Thursday at $185.95, up 1%. Tencent’s stock closed at HK$333.6 on Thursday, unchanged.