For those not familiar with Shoptalk, it’s a trade show focused on the retail market, and one that tends to bring its share of news in the sector along with it. Alipay—the rapidly-growing Chinese mobile payments service—hit the show recently and dropped word our way about what was revealed therein. Not surprisingly, the news is expansion-based, and Alipay now counts several more North American businesses to its credit.
First, Alipay dropped word that it was stepping up its earlier-established partnership with First Data, a move that would add fully 35,000 merchants to the Alipay roster. First Data is regarded as a “premier partner” for Alipay by no less than Alipay Americas president Souheil Badran, who said as much following the announcement.
One of the First Data partners involved, Millennium Hotels and Resorts, noted that using Alipay had proven quite successful throughout Asian operations, so bringing it into play in the Boston, Los Angeles and New York Millennium locations was a natural extension from there.
Second, Alipay stepped into an agreement with FreedomPay, which is another major operation in the secure commerce technology market. Thus, businesses that use FreedomPay technology—which range from airports to resorts and beyond—will be able to accept Alipay as part of their operations. FreedomPay has been working for two decades in this market space, which means it’s had a lot of opportunity to expand.
The common cause of these expansions, as noted by Badran in separate remarks, is to open up the field and get Alipay in more places where the growing Chinese tourist class is likely to hit. Part of that is almost certainly for the sake of more profit to Alipay, but part of that is also likely geared toward keeping market share from jumping ship to WeChat Pay. Since WeChat Pay has made its own inroads—though on a much, much lower scale than Alipay—in the worldwide market, it’s a safe bet that Alipay is actively considering its own user base numbers in the rapid expansion.
It doesn’t hurt that Alipay is the weapon of choice when it comes to high-dollar mobile payments, and travel is a high-dollar operation by any definition of the term. Alipay’s worldwide expansion likely won’t stop here, and as more firms get added, its versatility—and value—are only likely to increase.
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