Alipay takes aim at US market

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China leads the world in mobile payments. In 2016, Chinese consumers spent $5.5 Trillion through platforms like Alipay and WeChat Pay. But in the U.S., plastic is the currency of choice. Americans tend to favor using debit or credit cards to make payments. Now Alipay has set its sights on entering the U.S. market.

CGTN’s Karina Huber explains Alibaba’s push for global expansion.

More than 950,000 Chinese tourists visited New York City last year. One of their favorite activities is shopping, and it’s now a lot easier for Chinese travelers to pay for things when in the U.S.

Alipay, a mobile payment platform, recently struck a deal with payments processor First Data to become available in the United States. Roughly four million merchants across the country now accept the form of payment.

Alipay can be used to pay for hotels, luxury goods and now taxis. As of November, roughly 14,000 yellow cabs – two-thirds of the fleet in New York also accept the payment. The majority of taxis in Las Vegas also take Alipay.

Making payments is simple. At the end of a ride, you press Alipay, enter a tip, scan the QR code, and you’re done.

Alipay’s entrance into the world’s number one consumer market is part of its global strategy. At the moment, the service is being used almost exclusively by Chinese visitors but if the company plans to gain widespread adoption among U.S. consumers, analysts warn it could face an uphill battle.

That’s in part because mobile payment transactions in the U.S. are not as common as they are in other countries like China. Another challenge: a competitive marketplace.

Perhaps Alipay isn’t seeking to become a major player among U.S. consumers. With the number of Chinese tourists to the U.S. expected to balloon to 6.5 million annually by 2020, catering to them could be reason enough to invest in America.