Berit Svendsen: Vipps in strategic partnership with Chinese Alipay

A partnership agreement between the Norwegian Vipps and Chinese Alipay makes it easy for Chinese tourists to shop when visiting Norway. Alipay allows Norwegian stores and tourist destinations to market themselves directly to Chinese people.

Berit Svendsen, Vipps, Telenor Last December, Vipps AS entered an agreement with the world's largest fintech company, Chinese Alipay. As many as 700 million Chinese people use their payment solution today, while the goal is to have two billion customers by 2025.

Entering the rest of the world

Alipay has seen exponential growth together with the Chinese marketplace and e-commerce company Alibaba. Today, it is the world's largest mobile payment platform.

China is the most advanced country in the world in terms of mobile payment. Here, the usual form of payment has gone straight from the use of cash to mobile payments, skipping the use of payment cards.

In addition to mobile payments, China has also created electronic marketplaces with payment via mobile phone. This has gained enormous domestic coverage. Alipay is now expanding abroad to offer Chinese people the same payment service they use at home when traveling abroad.

Increased Chinese prosperity

According to the analysis company Nielsen, a total of 90 percent of the Chinese want to pay with the mobile phone abroad if they get the opportunity. And more than 90 percent of them are also saying that they will spend more money if they can shop the same way as at home.

China is the most populous country in the world, and the number of tourists from China is almost as many as the entire population of Russia: 140 million. Towards 2020, more than 200 million tourists are expected to leave China every year. It is the ever-growing Chinese middle class who are traveling to places they can gain new experiences. In addition, the Chinese are happy to shop.

Several countries are now welcoming Chinese people by offering them the same payment options that they have at home. Thus, during the recently organized World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, the Chinese were able to pay with Alipay at 80 percent of all hotels, Chinese restaurants, sporting and luxury goods stores.

Just like at home

So what does the recently signed agreement between Chinese Alipay and Norwegian Vipps mean?

Initially, it represents a great opportunity for the Norwegian retail industry. With small investments, Norwegian shops and hotels can open for Alipay payments for Chinese people using a so-called QR code; a type of barcode in mosaic form.

In Norway, there are potentially 100,000 shops, hotels and tourist attractions where Chinese tourists can pay in exactly the same way as they do at home.

The brilliant code

The QR code as a system was launched already in the early 1990s. Thus, this is not about any new technology, but it has undergone significant improvements in recent years. It is both efficient and easily available and requires only small investments by the retail industry. 

When used, the customer enters the amount of money being paid into the Alipay app. When the store's printed QR-code is scanned, the money is sent from the customer to the store. Some stores even have QR scanners in the cash register. With this solution, the customer's QR code is scanned with the phone - and the transaction is executed.

We experienced how powerful and easy to use a QR code is as a payment service right after the Alipay agreement was launched. Hundreds of payment transactions were registered. For each payment, one cent was registered from Chinese people to the Christmas House in Bergen. This happened after the agreement had been duly commented on several Chinese websites with pictures from the gingerbread town and picture of the QR code for the Christmas house. When the Chinese read about the agreement and saw a picture of the QR code, they caught it on their mobiles and paid one cent to check out what this was. In China, it is called a curiosity payment.

Smart marketing

Another fantastic opportunity for the Norwegian retail industry lies in the actual lifestyle app Alipay. The Alipay app that Chinese people pay with, can be used by the retail industry as a tool for digital marketing. In this way, the Chinese who like to plan, have the opportunity to explore Norwegian online stores and tourist attractions in the app and see where they can pay with Alipay.

When they arrive in Norway, they’ll get push messages that tell them which sites have campaigns, about opening hours in different stores and tourist attractions, and information about where they can shop with their Alipay app. Once they have left Norway, they can continue to shop in the same stores via online shopping with the app.

Endless possibilities

Services such as travel insurance, the possibility to raise loans, payment of taxi, an overview of payment transactions, balance on the account, etc. are also in the app itself. With the partnership agreement between Alipay and Vipps, another opportunity will open up.

Although there are fewer Norwegians than the Chinese, we have at least one thing in common: our love to travel. Because of the agreement, Norwegians traveling abroad have the possibility to pay with the Vipps app. One of the most famous holiday countries for Norwegians is Spain, where mobile payments will be available within the next six months. Therefore decreasing the need for cash, because there will be more opportunities to pay via mobile payments.

Vipps does not facilitate this by themselves, but in partnership with both local actors and with Alipay. If a Chinese can pay at a restaurant in Malaga, then it is possible for Vipps users to do the same.

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