Alipay Sets its Sights on New Zealand

December 6, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Ant Financial’s worldwide expansion of the Alipay mobile payments system might well be described as viral, at this point, because it’s gone in most every direction the planet can offer and it’s done so with shocking alacrity. New reports say Alipay has once again branched out and is making its way toward New Zealand, as Wellington and Alibaba are looking to bring Alipay into the city.

The reasons were as ever; Alipay has been looking to expand outward to most anywhere where the growing Chinese tourist class is headed, and New Zealand is one of those targets. With apps like Alipay and its immediate competitor WeChat Pay dominating the Chinese retail scene, Alipay—and to a lesser extent WeChat Pay—wants to be where those tourists are, and allowing them to use a payment method that’s familiar to them. Oh, and also pull in the cash from processing those payments accordingly.

Interestingly, New Zealand itself has been something of a laggard in mobile payments; its own mobile wallet Semble was recently decommissioned against virtually no use. Three banks have since launched new apps, but there’s not much word about their usage rates as yet. There’s also not much word on how many retailers were accepting it, a point that leaves one to wonder if New Zealanders don’t care about mobile payments, or simply gave it up as a bad idea when few retailers took it for payment.

Naturally, businesses in those regions aren’t exactly complaining; by taking Alipay or WeChat Pay, they improve the likelihood that those traveling Chinese will spend some dough at their shops and restaurants. There’s a clear economic reason to add such tools to everyday operations, even though many—if any—locals will never touch them. The local businesses can better appeal to the Chinese tourist, who already has enough wherewithal to hop a flight, and is thus likely to have sufficient wherewithal to continue dropping cash on souvenirs.

We’ve already seen airports working to accommodate the Chinese traveler, and with good reason; Chinese travelers seem to enjoy duty-free shopping. Seeing regular businesses work to do likewise is sound business, and should ultimately prove to be a good move for those local boys eager to get a piece of Chinese tourist budgets, just like they’re doing in New Zealand.