Chinese online and mobile payment platform Alipay has just signed multiple memoranda of understanding that will enhance the ability of merchants across the Nordic region to accept payments made using the platform. These include separate agreements with Finpro in Finland, Svensk Handel in Sweden, and the Scandinavian Tourist Board.
“Alipay has been leading the trend of smart living in China,” said Douglas Feagin, president of international business at Ant Financial Services Group that operates Alipay. “People not only use Alipay for payment, but also for settlement of all types of needs in their daily life. As part of our globalisation strategy, we are focused on working with local partners to bring this smart lifestyle to Chinese tourists, no matter where they go.”
Alipay is not new to the region – more than 500 merchants in Finland are purportedly able to accept payments and can be searched on Alipay’s Discover Platform, while European e-payment company ePassi has been working to promote Alipay in the country alongside the government-owned Finpro.
“Together with Alipay, we are building a smart tourism ecosystem for Chinese tourists,” said Alexander Yin, ePassi’s CFO. “Now Chinese users have an easy and flexible way to enjoy a full Finnish shopping experience without a language or currency barrier.” Yin adds that the acceptance of Alipay will extend to flights and hotel payments, shopping, buses, sightseeing, dining, saunas and other experiences.
Sweden similarly has a number of merchants already using the platform, and cashless payments in the country are now by far the norm. “In Sweden, 90 per cent of transactions are now cashless,” said Mats Hedenstrom, head of policy at Svensk Handel. “We find it’s a safe and efficient solution for both customers and merchants. Tourists may find some shops here don’t accept cash at all. Svensk Handel’s intention in signing up with Alipay is to make it more convenient for the growing group of Chinese visitors to enjoy shopping in Sweden.”
Mobile payment provider 2paynow, meanwhile, is aiming to bring Alipay to the Norwegian market this month, in collaboration with the Scandinavian Tourist Board. “Numbers of Chinese tourists, especially free independent tourists (FITs), have been increasing rapidly in recent years and China has become and important market for the Scandinavian tourism industry,” said Per Holte, chairman of the Scandinavian Tourist Board. “We will further deploy Alipay services in this region with 2paynow to help local merchants understand and service Chinese tourists better, which will strengthen the advantages of Scandinavian countries as Chinese-friendly destinations.”
Travel between China and the Nordic region could also be set to expand. Back in May, Finnish flag carrier Finnair gained overfly rights from the Russian government, greatly enhancing its ability to add new services. Last month, the carrier announced it would be adding a new Nanjing service next year, its seventh destination in China.
Alipay, meanwhile, has been expanding its presence internationally. Last year, Intercontinental Hotels Group (IHG) became the first internatinal hotel group to allow Alipay through all of its online and mobile channels. Marriott last month also established a loyalty partnership with Alipay, giving members of the payment platform access to the hotel group’s rewards programmes.