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Alipay eWallet is finally available for foreigners visiting China

For the first time, Alipay is now providing cashless payment access for tourists visiting China. This is made possible with its new Tour Pass and it enables foreigners to make payments with their smartphones like the locals.

Previously, you would need to own a local mobile number and a Chinese bank account in order to sign up for an eWallet. With Alipay Tour Pass, all you’ll need is your current international mobile number, a valid Chinese visa and a debit/credit card.

Once you’re registered as an international user, you can enable the Tour Pass which is valid only for 90 days. This will provide you with a local virtual prepaid card that’s issued by Bank of Shanghai. To top up, you’ll need to link your international credit or debit card. If you have a remaining balance after 90 days, it will be refunded back to your registered card.

The minimum top-up amount required is CNY 100 (about RM59) and there’s a maximum wallet size of CNY 2,000 (about RM1,180). The limit is quite low but you can top up multiple times.

To get started, just download the Alipay app which is available on Android and iOS. Note that finding Malaysia’s area code can be tricky as it isn’t sorted properly in alphabetical order under “M”. The key features of the app including Help are in English but there are still bits and pieces that are still in Chinese.

According to SCMP’s report, this international Alipay is not available for Hong Kong and Macau users. Hong Kong users have their own solution called Alipay HK.

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The move to open Alipay to visitors will allow Ant Financial to tap into the growing tourism market. In 2018, China received 30.5 million foreign visitors and it is a 4.7% increase from the previous year. Ant Financial estimated that tourists spent USD 73.1 billion (about RM302 billion) on lodging, food and shopping.

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Alexander Wong