Ant Financial Expands Pay-by-smartphone in Taiwan

Alibaba Group affiliate Ant Financial is expanding its pay-by-smartphone service in Taiwan to encourage more mainland tourists to spend in local shops.

Ray Ku, Ant Financial’s senior business development manager for Taiwan, said the island is one of most popular destinations for Chinese travelers and “the growing number of mainland visitors to Taiwan indicates strong purchasing power.” To capture more tourism dollars, he said, Taiwanese retailers need to “create a shopping environment that is friendly to mainland shoppers.”

One way of doing this is making electronic point-of-sale payment in RMB more convenient through Alipay, Ant Financial’s e-payment service that is widely used on the mainland. Ant Financial has partnered with E.SUN Bank and Yuanta Bank so that merchants can offer Alipay as a payment option at cash registers. Using Alipay, mainland travelers can pay for goods and services with their smartphones through scanned QR codes or barcodes.

Since Dec. 1, a number of retailers operating more than 3,500 physical stores in Taiwan have begun accepting Alipay as a payment option, among them Hankyu, SOGO, Family Mart, Hi-Life, SUGAR & SPICE, Vigor and MySenseOne. Also offering Alipay are shopping streets, night markets, mobile top-up service providers, taxi companies, and vending machines companies. Ku said Alipay is working on additional partnerships with banks and merchants to expand Alipay point-of-sale services.

Taiwan isn’t the only market outside the mainland where Alipay is being adopted. As of Nov. 2015, more than 50,000 overseas stores located in more than 20 countries and regions were offering Alipay.

In China, Alipay has more than 400 million users and accounts for 70 percent of third-party mobile payment market share, according to a recent report by iResearch.