Offering Mobile Payment Tech Like Alipay and WeChat Pay Could Increase Chinese Tourists to Your Hotel, Restaurant

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Offering Mobile Payment Tech Like Alipay and WeChat Pay Could Increase Chinese Tourists to Your Hotel, Restaurant


In the past few years the Chinese government has loosened restrictions on foreign travel, enabling millions of its citizenry to visit foreign lands. Along with a greater ability to travel, Chinese consumers now bring with them, the desire to purchase foreign goods.

When it comes to overseas travel spending, Chinese tourists are the leaders by a wide margin. Last year there were 130 million outbound trips made from China to other countries.  China represented the largest buyer of travel exports from the U.S. in 2017 with a 14 percent share and a value of $35.3 billion.

The number of Chinese visitors to the U.S. is forecast to continue a strong growth trend for the next several years. Almost 3 million Chinese visitors traveled to the U.S. in 2016 and this number is expected to grow to over 4.5 million in 2022, says MyCheck.

The success of some of the world’s biggest wallets, WeChat Pay and Alipay, demonstrate massive followings that virtually blanket almost the entire 1.4 billion person population in China. Why China’s mobile wallets have grown so rapidly may have to do more on the population's reliance on older, dated technology to reach ubiquity faster, rather than waiting for new technology to be put into place.

Alipay claims to have 520 million of its online and mobile payment service. Tencent Holdings’ WeChat app, which includes WeChat Pay, reported a monthly active user base of almost 1.06 billion in August 2018.

Breaking down the overseas purchases by payment method, Nielsen found that Chinese travelers were almost as likely to use cash as they were to use a mobile device – 28 percent of transactions were made with a mobile phone compared to 30 percent completed with cash. In comparison, non-Chinese consumers were much more reliant on bank cards (52 percent) and cash (44 percent).

A major factor enabling Chinese tourists to be able to make those mobile transactions is that there is a massive push to cater to their needs.  When Chinese consumers choose to pay with a mobile device on an overseas trip, it’s because they want to be able to reach for something that they are familiar with using at home.

The Nielsen report explored the top reasons why Chinese tourists reached for their mobile phone to make a payment. The top factor on the list was convenience/speed/familiarity. This was followed by pride in using a Chinese brand to make the payment. The third most important reason was that there is no need to exchange currency at point sale, unlike the usage of cash.

For Chinese consumers increasingly accustomed to making mobile payments at home, the expansion of Alipay and WeChat into U.S. and other markets has been instrumental in allowing them to shop as if they were in their home market.

Implementing AliPay and WeChat Pay can be accomplished without additional hardware, thus a large budget is not required to be accepting of these forms of payment.