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US merchants adopt Chinese app payments to draw big spenders

12/18/2017| 9:54:39 AM|

Alipay and WeChat Pay charge into North America.

Now, Ant Financial and Tencent are looking to achieve similar success internationally. Earlier this year, both companies inked deals with payment processors that enable merchants to accept payments across North America and in parts of Europe and Southeast Asia.

Chinese students, who account for the largest proportion of international students in the U.S., are one target of the rollout. An even bigger target is Chinese tourists, who are the largest spenders worldwide. Nearly 3 million traveled to the U.S. in 2016, placing China fifth in terms of visitor arrivals after Canada, Mexico, the U.K., and Japan. However, the Chinese spent $33 billion -- more than visitors from any other country.

Alipay and WeChat Pay work with authorized payment partners in overseas markets. In the U.S., these include Verifone, Stripe and Citcon -- a Chinese-funded Silicon Valley payments startup -- which provide merchants with a device that can connect to customers' smartphones to deduct payments from their app accounts. Chinese consumers pay in yuan via their app accounts, and transactions are settled in dollars.

More than 120,000 U.S. merchants currently offer Alipay through its partners. Chinese tourists can use their smartphones to pay at venues from LanYu Couture, a high-end boutique in New York's Flatiron District, to VR World, a virtual reality arcade across the street from the Empire State Building. Even Central Park's horse-drawn carriages will soon accept the Chinese mobile payments, according to Citcon regional manager Jean Kany.

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TAGS: Alipay | Wechat | mobile payment
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