Chinese Mobile Payments Brands WeChat Pay, Alipay Make Further US Inroads

June 20, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

While much of the focus of US-Chinese relations these days is targeting the ongoing trade war, there are still signs of interconnection between the two economies. Mobile payments were often a big focus of that interconnection, as the major mobile payments platforms in China expanded outward to accommodate the growing Chinese tourist class. Such developments are still going on, and recently, word arrived about a couple new expansions in Chinese mobile payments options.

First, Chinese shoppers eager for luxury goods will be able to take their Alipay-enabled devices to Neiman Marcus. The Neiman Marcus Group, which also includes Bergdorf Goodman and Neiman’s Last Call, will accept the Alipay system in stores throughout the United States. Online shoppers will soon be able to do likewise themselves. It’s not available at all stores as yet, but 43 Neiman Marcus outlets, 24 Neiman’s Last Call, and two Bergdorf Goodman outlets take it.

Second, Chinese shoppers weary from their shopping will be able to turn to WeChat Pay to cover the check at Steak 48, a major restaurant brand in Chicago. All Prime Steak Concepts outlets will accept WeChat Pay starting July 1, a move that was brought about by the company’s desire to reach as many potential customers as possible. Interestingly, Steak 48 currently accepts UnionPay also, a major Chinese mobile payments system, but doesn’t take either Apple Pay or Google Pay at its locations.

While it’s odd to see Steak 48 turn to WeChat Pay—an upscale brand would more commonly go with Alipay rather than WeChat Pay—it’s not at all odd to see it incorporate a Chinese mobile payments system. Despite what may be going around with the trade war, the United States is still a major Chinese tourism destination. Granted, the trade war has driven tourism down a bit—the first drop in 15 years, according to reports from CBS News—but the overall levels are more than high enough to justify better connection to the Chinese tourism market.

Making it easier for customers to pay is part of the trade in retail sectors, no matter what the final product actually is. That’s the same everywhere you go, and for Neiman Marcus and Steak 48, the Chinese tourist trade is worth having on hand.