China’s cashless economy is spreading throughout Australia and New Zealand as its tourists look to pay in the same way they do at home.
Momentum for payment by mobile phone is building rapidly, with antipodean retailers and accommodation houses looking to offer Alipay and WeChat Pay to tap into an estimated $12.5 billion in Chinese tourist spending across the two nations.
Alipay Australia and New Zealand spokesman George Lawson said agreements made within the last month with Smartpay and Cabcharge were a watershed moment for the company, with more than 50,000 devices across the two countries now enabled to accept Alipay.
Both WeChat and Alipay use an app linked to a user’s bank account. At the point of sale, shoppers scan a barcode, put in their code and the money comes out of their account.
Mr Lawson said the company was experiencing strong demand from pharmacies, food and beverage and luxury brand retailers to install mobile payment facilities, as well as airport duty free outlets across the country.
Currently 18 percent of Australian and 12 percent of New Zealand accommodation providers offer mobile payment options for Chinese guests, with larger chains such as Accor attuned to the advantages of easing the payment process.
The latest data from Tourism Research Australia showed that 1.5 million Chinese visited the country in 2017, spending more than $11 billion. New Zealand saw 407,000 Chinese visitors, estimated to have spent $1.5 billion.
In addition to travellers, Mr Lawson said the Chinese student population of around 400,000 in Australia were keen users of mobile payment facilities.
“We will start to see more and more momentum pick up in market and that’s great for the Chinese consumer,” Mr Lawson told Australia China Business Review.
“Ultimately, I want to get to a point where they don’t have to guess whether or not Alipay can be used – they will know because it’s on every terminal.
“And when that happens, they will have a good experience, and when they have a good experience, they say ‘I enjoyed coming to Australia and New Zealand’.
“Then that has a halo effect, more people come and that becomes good not only for the merchants but for the economy as well, and that’s really what I’m trying to drive.”