By 2050, three of world’s top five economies will come from the Asia-Pacific (APAC) region, with China far ahead of every other country. The easy availability and affordability of smartphones has helped China establish a virtually cashless economy, bypassing the use of credit and debit cards and going straight to mobile wallets. Most of China’s smartphone users prefer one of two payment methods – Alipay or WeChat Pay – which together account for 93% of China’s mobile payments market.
Recognizing the size of this opportunity and the importance of this market to the travel sector, CellPoint Mobile supports both Alipay and WeChat Pay across all e-commerce platforms (Web, mobile web and native app), and can quickly and cost-effectively integrate both APMs into travel merchants’ existing payments infrastructure. Other APMs – including Apple Pay – can be supported or added later, as well as additional sales or payment side solutions for mobile commerce.
The Middle East and Africa (MEA) regions have had similar mobile growth as China and are becoming important markets for both Alipay and WeChat Pay, for domestic users and Chinese tourists. WeChat pay has faced difficulties working around domestic currency regulations to expand internationally, but South Africa is one of its key international markets. Alipay and WeChat Pay will be important for airlines in these regions but also hotels, amusement parks and other hospitality operators – the market potential for Chinese APMs is massive in travel, transportation and hospitality
Mobile Commerce in China and Asia-Pacific
By 2021, according to eMarketer, 79.3 per cent of smartphone users in China will be tapping, scanning and swiping at the point of sale, versus 23% in the U.S. and 15% in Germany. With 100 million Chinese traveling abroad every year, more merchants in Southeast Asia, Western Europe and North America are investing in mobile solutions to support Alipay and WeChat Pay for Chinese visitors and tourists, as well as foreign expats living in China. The global expansion of travel will be driven primarily by China and India, and the travel industry – from suppliers and merchants to retailers and digital marketers – will need to cater to this demand by leveraging Alipay, WeChat Pay and other Chinese payment methods.
Just last year, 2,100 taxis in Las Vegas began accepting Alipay as fare payment, and 14,000 taxis in New York City are expected to do so this year. More than 1,000 taxis in Hong Kong now accept WeChat Pay. The sheer fact that taxi operators – not generally known as innovators when it comes to technology – are embracing these key payment methods, speaks volumes about the importance of China’s alternative payment methods (APMs) for global travel, transportation and hospitality sectors.
Retailers and merchants across the globe are also taking notice and investing in new mobile solutions to support China’s most popular mobile wallets. The number of stores accepting Alipay in Japan doubled to 45,000 last year, as mobile payment transactions in China reached a record $12.8 trillion – by comparison, the U.S. had only $49.3 billion in total mobile payment transactions in 2017.
Here are some other key facts that reinforce the importance of these two APMs:
- 520 million active users
- Supported by hundreds of thousands of merchants in 36 countries and regions
- Total number of payments increased by 306% in 2017
- Has evolved from mobile wallet to “lifestyle enabler” used for more than 100 services
- Hail a taxi, book a hotel, buy cinema tickets, pay bills
- Recently launched on Point of Sale devices in the UAE
- 1 billion active users
- Present in 25 countries with 100 million international WeChat users
- 83% of all smartphone users in China use WeChat / 93% in China’s Tier 1 cities
- 64% of foreign expats in China use WeChat Pay for their daily needs
Passengers increasingly expect travel, transportation and hospitality operators to support Alipay and WeChat Pay as their preferred payment methods. Operators must continue to make it easier for passengers to book, plan and pay for travel directly from their mobile devices and mobile wallets. CellPoint Mobile can help merchants implement Alipay, WeChat Pay and other key APMs for higher growth and revenue in the mobile channel.