Alipay Mobile Wallet Makes a Push into Spain

July 3, 2017         By: Steven Anderson

Alipay has been increasing its presence all over the world, giving tourist classes in China access to a familiar payment method even while traveling overseas. We recently saw Alipay move on the South African market, and now there’s a new entry into the field: Spain.

A new agreement between BBVA—the second largest bank in Spain at last report—and the Ant Financial Services Group opened up access to Alipay in the country. With the agreement, Alipay is now a built-in part of BBVA’s Smartpay system. Since Smartpay is currently available at all stores in Spain, at last report, an update to the Smartpay app was pretty much all that was needed to unleash Alipay in the region as an option.

Rita Liu, Alipay’s head of Europe, Middle East and Africa (EMEA) operations—who also offered comment on the South African push—noted that “…cooperating with BBVA not only allows us to make Chinese tourists’ shopping experience in Spain as simple as in China, but also makes it easier for Spanish merchants to do business with Chinese customers”.

This isn’t even the first time that Alipay has expanded into Europe; reports suggest that the service is already available in France, and given the broadly interconnected nature of the European Union these days—despite some cracks beginning to show from things like Brexit—those countries that don’t have Alipay yet are likely to have it soon.

It might seem like too niche a market to pursue—trying to be the frontrunner in travel spending—but considering the sheer size of the traveler market in China, it’s easy to see why Alipay’s pursuing it so diligently. In fact, it’s interesting, but there hasn’t been this amount of push seen from any other mobile payments option in China. Alipay is a big deal, and may have the resources to make the push unlike its competitors, but it’s still somewhat odd more of an effort isn’t seen therein.

Still, it’s clear Alipay wants as big a chunk of that market as it can lay hands on, and it’s doing all it can to get that market. It looks like it’s well on the way to succeeding, too, making it Chinese tourism’s go-to mobile payment system.