- Posted by Christopher Ledsham
- On 15th December 2016
- Alibaba, alipay, czech republic, Slovakia
As of December 2016, China’s largest mobile payment service Alipay will be available in the Czech Republic and Slovakia. This introduction is being made possible through collaboration with Dutch marketing company V2Future, as well as Czech consulting firm Sims MANAGEMENT, who will be representing the Chinese web giant in the Czech and Slovakian markets and rolling out the product across the region.
The service will be available immediately at businesses owned by the Prague-based Gastro Group, many of which are particularly popular with Chinese visitors. The company’s portfolio includes a range of restaurants and hotels in the Czech capital, as well as a Cuban cigar shop and a diamond museum. A number of other luxury retailers looking to attract Chinese customers are also planning to introduce the payment system, and it is expected that there will be more than 100 merchants offering Alipay in the two countries by the time the next tourist high season begins.
The introduction of Alipay services in the Czech Republic and Slovakia represents a proactive bid to capitalise on the rapidly growing numbers of Chinese tourists in the region. By the end of 2016, it is expected that the Czech Republic will have welcomed an annual total of over 350,000 Chinese arrivals, representing an increase of more than 21% when compared with 2015’s total of almost 289,000. Slovakia has also been seeing year-on-year arrival growth rates of over 40% in 2016.
As the leading e-payment provider in China – with a market share of over 80% and a user base of more than 500 million – Alipay is a highly effective means of attracting the business of Chinese tourists, who are often forced to carry large amounts of cash when travelling overseas due to limited acceptance of Chinese payment methods. This is especially important in the Czech Republic on account of the fact that Chinese shoppers may only have a limited supply of Czech koruna.
Beyond the attraction of facilitating shopping overseas, Alipay also offers a range of additional features that can benefit Chinese travellers, including a new Prague-focused travel and shopping guide section in the app’s ‘Big World’ feature.
Speaking at the product launch, Sims MANAGEMENT founder Simona Svobodová explained: “The introduction of the Alipay application can help attract new customers, ensure the needed visibility and provide the option of direct online marketing communication with Chinese visitors to the Czech Republic and Slovakia.” Emphasising the opportunities the shift provided for users, she furthered: “So far, Chinese tourists had to rely on information provided by travel agencies. Now, we have the option of communicating with Chinese visitors directly, online and in real time. Thus, we can better market the services and products available in our market.”
Citing the example of the introduction of Alipay in shops at Munich Airport, Svobodová revealed that: “Alipay payments currently account for around 20% of all turnover by Chinese combined at the airport.”
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Pictured above, left to right: Nathan Fox - V2Future, Simona Svobodova - Managing Partner - SIMS Management, Rita Liu - Head of Alipay EMEA, Pamela Hsieh - Head of Marketing Alipay EMEA, Jiri Pos - Managing partner - Chinese Academy.cz.