In a deal with credit card processing service First Data, Alipay has opened the door to 4 million businesses for its customers to purchase various retail items in the US. This deal has followed an Alipay trial run in California and New York.
The intended target of this mobile payment expansion deal is Chinese tourists visiting North America. The move, significantly, will bring Alipay into direct competition with the other big names in the mobile payment market: ApplePay, Android Pay and PayPal.
Globally, Alipay has about 450 million customers, but clearly there are ambitions to expand. It is owned by Jack Ma’s Ant Financial, and represents Alibaba’s digital payments arm.
Earlier this year Ant Financial bought US-based MoneyGram for $880 million (£700 million) to further its ambition. MoneyGram has about 350,000 outlets in nearly 200 countries. However, this takeover is still under review, and needs regulatory approval from the US Committee on Foreign Investment.
In China, and its ever-expanding market, Alipay and rivals WeChat dominate the mobile payments market. As well as mobile payments, both services offer online payments and money transfers, while users can also hail a taxi, book a hotel and buy movie tickets directly from the within the app.
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It is evident these two giants are looking to expand their international reach. At the same time, US mobile payment firms are looking to increase their presence in China.
For example, in February, Apple partnered with China’s state-owned bankcard association, China Union Pay, which allowed the lenders’ customers to use ApplePay.
This move from Alipay reflects the growing significance of the mobile payments industry and the increasing impact it will have for consumers globally.