Travellers to China can now use Alipay for mobile payment

6 Nov 2019 by Jackie Chen
Alipay - Credit from Weibo account @AntFinancial

Updated on November 11, 2019.

Foreign travellers visiting China can now go cashless with the newly launched international version of Chinese mobile payment app Alipay.

Alipay announced the launch in a tweet posted through its official Twitter account.

Users can download the Alipay app on the App Store (for iOS users) or Google Play Store (for Android users), and sign up with their overseas mobile phone number.

After choosing the English version of the app, users will see a “Tour Pass” icon on the homepage. With this function, users can use their international debit or credit cards to top up an e-prepaid card issued by Bank of Shanghai. To finish the top-up, they are also required to fill in their passport information and take a picture of their Chinese visa for identity verification.

The minimum top-up value is RMB100 (US$15), while the maximum top-up value is RMB2,000 (US$285). South China Morning Post reported that users can top up “multiple times” and Alipay has set an undisclosed but “reasonable” ceiling.

Alipay's international version for foreign travellers to China

Once the top-up is successful, foreign users can pay for goods at brick-and-mortar stores by presenting the payment QR code on their Alipay app or using their device to scan the QR code presented by the merchant. They can also pay for a range of other services such as food delivery, movie tickets, car hailing on mobile apps like Didi, as well as bookings for flights, trains and hotels online.

This e-prepaid card is valid for 90 days. Once it is expired, the remaining balance will be refunded to the user.

Previously it was difficult or even impossible for foreign visitors to use Alipay because a Chinese mobile phone would be needed for sign-up and a Chinese bank card would be needed for payment.

Alipay is one of the two major mobile payment platforms that are widely being used in China, with the other being WeChat Pay. Following the initiative launched by Alipay, WeChat Pay announced on Thursday that overseas WeChat users can now link their credit cards to WeChat Pay and use it for payment transactions and services in China.

Business Traveller Asia-Pacific rounded up a few other mobile apps that would be useful for non-Chinese-speaking travellers visiting China.

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