More than 100 South Island tourism operators and retailers have signed up to the Chinese smartphone payment system Alipay with thousands more expressing interest in the platform.
Christchurch Airport has been helping businesses in the South Island become Alipay merchants, making it easier for Chinese visitors to pay for goods and services. Worldwide, more than half-a-billion Chinese use the system.
So far, 112 businesses from tourism operators and accommodation providers to clothing and food retailers have joined the smartphone app, with more than 3,000 companies across the South Island expressing an interest in the scheme.
“Alipay is a cutting-edge tool that will connect small, medium and large kiwi businesses with the more than 400,000 Chinese who visit New Zealand every year,” said Christchurch Airport’s chief aeronautical and commercial officer, Justin Watson.
“The Chinese use Alipay more than credit cards. Because they trust it and know how it works, our Chinese guests are more likely to spend with a business that offers Alipay than one that doesn’t. Better still, being an Alipay merchant lets kiwi businesses talk to these visitors before, during and after their holiday here.”
The system also captures data on how those visitors travelled around the South Island, what tourism experiences they were consuming and what other goods and services they were purchasing.
Christchurch Airport signed in April what it called a world-first partnership agreement with Alipay’s parent company, Alibaba Group, to promote the system. The airport said it would spend $1m on the partnership, with the initial aim of signing up more than 50 businesses within a year.
Australia and NZ country manager for Alipay, George Lawson, said New Zealand was “the envy of the world when it comes to tourism, and Chinese visitor numbers are only going to expand in the years to come”.