Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has risen in prominence over the years, having unveiled plans to enter the US market back in 2014 and, more recently, announcing the establishment of its own chip subsidiary to help carve out a slice of the cloud computing and IoT segments. Now, the company is set to further the reach of its mobile and online payment platform in Australia.
Established in 2004 by outgoing CEO Jack Ma and Alibaba Group, Alipay has now gained the support of the National Australia Bank, one of Australia's major financial institutions. The bank had foreshadowed its strategy to "grow acceptance of Alipay among Australian merchants" earlier this year, citing that the platform represented the "preferred payment method for Chinese people" visiting the country.
With respect to timing, Shane Conway, NAB executive general manager of deposit and transaction services said:
"This means from next year, Aussie businesses with a NAB merchant terminal can offer Chinese tourists Alipay, their preferred QR code payment method, in-store, and unlock an opportunity to promote their businesses on Alipay’s marketing platform which has 870 million active users."
The move is significant for the Australian market and NAB given that Chinese tourism has comprised 81% of the growth in tourist spending over the last year, according to George Lawson, Alipay country manager for Australia and New Zealand. The move could also represent a major shift away from the use of traditional plastic cards and more towards the use of smartphones and mobile wallets while also putting pressure on NAB's rivals to get on board.
In the meantime, the bank has kicked off a pilot program involving a selected group of merchants, with the intent to extend support to NAB EFTPOS terminals that are currently in operation sometime in early 2019.