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NAB to roll out wildly popular Chinese payment app

It just became easier for Chinese tourists to splurge in Australia. Photos: Getty, Supplied

Aussie major bank NAB has struck a deal with Chinese payment platform Alipay in a move designed to facilitate easier spending for international visitors.

Over 1 million Chinese tourists spent $11.3 billion in Australia the 12 months leading up to July 2018, accounting for over a quarter of total international spend, Tourism Research Australia statistics revealed.

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Asia’s payment technology far outstrips Australia’s, with Alipay and WeChat Pay being the most popular methods of paying for products and services in China.

“By making China’s number one payment method available to NAB business customers, we’re enabling greater customer service and providing our business customers with access to this large tourism sector which is a win-win for everyone,” said NAB executive manager of deposit and transactions Shane Conway.

NAB has commenced pilot-testing with a handful business merchant customers, with Alipay to be rolled out across all point-of-sale terminals early next year.

“This means from next year, Aussie businesses with a NAB merchant terminal can offer Chinese tourists Alipay, their preferred QR code payment method, in-store, and unlock an opportunity to promote their businesses on Alipay’s marketing platform which has 870 million active users,” Conway explained.

Alipay is tested by a staff worker in Hong Kong. Photo: Getty/Xinhua

I’m Australian. What does this mean for me?

Not very much – you’ve got to have a Chinese passport to set up an Alipay account anyway, so you can stick to your local banks.

The partnership is designed to facilitate tourist spending in Australia and provide a familiar payment option to Chinese tourists, migrants or students visiting, living or working here.

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I run a business in Australia. What does this mean for me?

It’s good news for you! If you’re a merchant with a NAB terminal, the collaboration will make your business more attractive to international visitors because they’ll be able to easily pay using a method and platform familiar to them. They also tend to favour paying via scanning QR codes, so expect that, too.

The kinds of businesses that favour Alipay are retailers in tourist hotspots like Chinatowns, the CBD and areas like Sydney’s The Rocks and Melbourne’s Federation Square.

Chinatown, Melbourne. Photo: Getty

Citing Tourism Research Australia statistics, Alipay country manager of Australia and New Zealand George Lawson observed that 81 per cent of the growth in international spend came from China.

“This deal provides tens of thousands of merchants the ability to switch-on Alipay seamlessly and reduce friction at the point of sale for Chinese visitors, residents and students,” Lawson said.

“Beyond facilitating transactions, Alipay’s marketing platform drives incremental customers and revenue as it offers the best exchange rates and reduces the anxieties associated with using a foreign currency.”

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NAB will be the first big bank to integrate with Alipay

Lawson said Alipay had signed a memorandum of agreement with CBA to explore the integration of Alipay with CBA’s terminals. “I would say watch this space on that front,” he told The Australian.

Photo: Supplied

“We are happy to work with all of the financial institutions but things often move at different speeds. We want to run with the fastest gazelle and in this case it’s NAB.”

Other major banks will likely follow in NAB’s footsteps before long, he added.

“What I would expect to happen over time is that other banks follow and it’s important for Australia to be competitive in the global market, particularly in tourism.”

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