Without Chinese bank accounts and local mobile phone numbers, foreigners had difficulty using various mobile payment tools in China in the past, the South China Morning Post reported. However, with Alipay’s pioneering efforts, obstacles have now been removed. Starting on Tuesday, Ant Gold’s Alipay will be open to foreign visitors to mainland China. Visitors can use the Alipay app for up to 90 days with a single top-up, rather than using a local bank account or mobile phone number.
With a small program called Tour Pass, Alipay has opened the international version, where foreign visitors can register with an international phone number and complete transactions with a prepaid card from a Bank of Shanghai. The move will help Ant Gold expand its dominance of the domestic mobile payment market while better participating in China’s growing tourism industry. In 2018, China received 30.5 million foreign visitors, up 4.7% year-on-year. Ant-Man estimates that these tourists spend about $73.1 billion on accommodation, dining and shopping.
Ant-Money says the international version of Alipay is not open to mobile phone users in Hong Kong and Macau. Hong Kong users can use Alipay HK, the Hong Kong edition. This is a different application from the mainland version.
If you wish to use the mobile payment service in the Mainland, Hong Kong residents can open a mainland bank account through BOC HK. BOCHK is one of the three note-issuing banks in Hong Kong.
Ant-Gold announced that international users can use overseas debit or credit cards to top up 90-day prepaid cards. The minimum recharge amount is 100 yuan, the upper limit is 2000 yuan. In addition, users can “multiple times” recharge, Alipay set a “reasonable” limit for this.
According to market research firm Ipsos 2018 China’s third-party mobile payment market report, Alipay and WeChat Pay have penetration rates of more than 90% among Chinese Internet users. Alipay and its e-wallet partners around the world currently serve more than 1.2 billion users.