The agreement between Alipay and UniCredit has entered the operational phase.
Alipay is the world's largest online and mobile payment platform, belonging to Ant Financial Service Group, a related company of China's global player Alibaba Group.
Starting from today, for the first time in Italy, Alipay users, namely the increasing number of Chinese visitors abroad, will in fact be able to purchase goods and services in Italy simply using the app they are accustomed to in their homeland.
That has become possible thanks to the enrollment of UniCredit's merchant customers Points of Sale in reading bar codes generated by Alipay.
With more than 450 million active users, Alipay is the most widespread and used mobile payment method in China. Alipay also enables in-store payments in many markets popular with Chinese tourists around the world.
It is accepted in 70 countries and regions, with in-store payments covering more than 100,000 retail stores.
The Italian excellence food and beverage distributor Eataly is pioneering the new solution in its flagship store in Milan, welcoming Chinese visitors during the Salone del Mobile. The same for Antonia, one of the most iconic fashion boutiques in Milan, which will allow Alipay transactions by its store in Brera.
Right after Eataly, other important brands and distributors of the Fashion & Luxury sectors such as Pisa Orologerie (with its Rolex, Patek and multibrand boutiques), Morellato, Fedon and Mitsukoshi will start accepting Alipay payments; moreover, the new payment system will be available also with Lagardère, the global leader in travel retail sector for Italian airports.
Thanks to the partnership with UniCredit and throughout SIA technological infrastructure, Alipay will potentially be used in a 120,000 large merchant network spread all over Italy.
Alipay partnership with some major European financial institutions – UniCredit for Italy – mark an important step in the international spreading of this ultimate payment and marketing solution.
Such expansion goes with the ever-growing number of Chinese tourists, who in 2015 spent more than $ 215 billion abroad, 53% more than the previous year according to the World Travel & Tourism Council.
With more than 3 million arrivals in 2016 Italy is the second European destination for Chinese tourists and among the world top 10.
"Thanks to the agreement signed with Alipay – Gianni Franco Papa, UniCredit General Manager said – we are the only Italian bank which enables merchants to accept payments from Chinese visitors via the Alipay app, enlarging their business potential. The partnership has been signed for Italy, but we are already considering the possibility to extend this service to other UniCredit countries.
“Our strategy is to integrate main technological innovations and digital payment systems into services and solutions we offer customers, in order to maximize commercial performances and create value for customers, UniCredit and investors."
Rita Liu, Head of Alipay Europe said: "Alipay has been following Chinese tourists to their favorite destinations across the world. It's our honor to offer users Alipay's payment and lifestyle services in Italy by cooperating with UniCredit.
“The seamless in-app payment and marketing solutions provided by Alipay creates a cashless, efficient and productive way to do business, removing language, currency and cultural barriers between Italian merchants and Chinese tourists.
“We are dedicated to enhancing our technology-backed services to create better experience for both merchants and tourists," said Rita Liu, Head of Alipay Europe.
Alipay was spun off from Alibaba in 2011 and is now the payment arm of Ant Financial Services Group, a related company of Alibaba. With its mission to "bring equal access to financial services to the world", Ant Financial is dedicated to using technology to provide inclusive financial services to small businesses and individuals.