RiverPay enables Alipay at retailer Holland & Barrett amid surge in Chinese travel

The widespread use of mobile wallets in China is impacting retailers around the world, as millions of tourists, families and business travelers bring their contactless payment devices to shopping malls, neighborhood merchants and private businesses in markets that, in many cases, have been much slower in terms of embracing e-commerce.

Riverpay Inc., an integrated platform for payments and marketing, entered an agreement earlier this month with international health and wellness retailer Holland & Barrett to add Alipay to its chain of 1,600 stores around the globe, including 800 locations in the U.K. and Ireland.

As part of the agreement, Alipay was also integrated into the retailer's e-commerce store, allowing the mobile wallet's users around the globe to pay for wellness products online.

"It's a shared mission for Alipay and RiverPay to provide Chinese consumers with a seamless travel and payment experience when traveling abroad," Ryan Zheng, chief executive officer of RiverPay told Mobile Payments Today via email. "And Holland & Barrett is obviously a top merchant in the health and wellness sector, which Chinese payments companies are exploring overseas."

The companies had been involved in a two-year pilot program, based on the extensive buying power of Chinese tourists and the large market share of Alipay, which was developed by billionaire Jack Ma's e-commerce giant Alibaba and is a unit of Ant Financial.

Chinese tourists drive mobile acceptance

Alipay has more than a billion users in China and other overseas markets and Chinese visitors to the U.K. are expected to spend about $1.2 billion (1 billion pounds) in 2019, a 50% increase from 2018 figures, according to data from Visit Britain.

A recent study by Nielsen showed that 91% of Chinese tourists said they would likely spend more money overseas if more merchants accepted mobile wallets that included payment cards issued in China.

During the pilot program, 10 Holland & Barrett stores added Alipay as a merchant option for payment using a standalone iPad point-of-sale solution, Zheng said. The locations were monitored for changes in transaction volume, foot traffic and any technical glitches that emerged.

Chinese tourists who didn't have Alipay were still able to pay with credit or debit cards or cash, Zheng said, however, cash use by tourists is considered to be more expensive and less safe.

Riverpay enables mobile payments at more than 7,000 merchant locations — including Harrods, Selfridges, Savoy Hotel and Dolce & Gabbana — in the U.K. and EU member nations. Zheng said that the company recently opened an office in Convent Garden and is negotiating similar deals with luxury brands, chain stores and restaurants.

Negotiations to expand overseas acceptance of Chinese mobile wallets are also taking place in the United States. Walgreens entered an agreement earlier this year to accept Alipay at 7,000 of its stores in the U.S.

Cover photo: RiverPay

Original author: David Jones