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An employee scans a quick response (QR) code displayed on the Ant Financial Services Group's Alipay app, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., inside a Sa Sa International Holdings Ltd. store in an arranged photograph in Hong Kong, China, on Tuesday, Nov. 1, 2016. The urgency to prepare regulatory environments for fintech is growing as banks begin offering digital services such as biometric authentication and as mobile-payment systems such as Apple Pay and AliPay are introduced around the region. Photographer: Anthony Kwan/Bloomberg

Chinese outbound tourists use mobile payment more than cash for the first time

Chinese outbound tourists have brought China’s mobile payment industry to foreign markets. According to a recent Nielsen report, 2018 Trends for Mobile Payment in Chinese Outbound Tourism, 32 percent of transactions by surveyed Chinese tourists were handled using mobile payment, surpassing the percent paid with cash for the first time. Nearly 70 percent of Chinese tourists paid with their mobile phones while abroad.

Given these mobile payment trends, Inspiry Smart Box, a self-service QR-code payment terminal produced by Chinese firm Inspiry, recently further enhanced its global deployment in more than 20 countries and regions including AustraliaIndonesiaMalaysiaSingapore and Thailand as well as in several European countries and North America, providing a convenient payment experience for Chinese shoppers while promoting the development of the local retail sector.

Several factors encourage Chinese tourists to use mobile payment abroad, with the most important being that they have already become accustomed to this fast and convenient payment method in their home country. To cite an example, the payment process with Inspiry Smart Box, one of the most popular terminals in China, is very simple: shoppers scan the QR-code generated on their mobile phones over the Inspiry Smart Box at the cashier’s station to complete the payment quickly and conveniently. With a near instant response, the payment terminal eliminates the time wasted by having to make change as is the case for most cash transactions. The terminal also comes equipped with a keyboard and voice system. This allows Chinese tourists to make payments abroad in a way with which they are already familiar.

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Merchants around the world have gradually recognized the importance of mobile payment for Chinese tourists and are witnessing benefits from better understanding of Chinese tourists’ habits and preference. Among the merchants surveyed at popular tourist areas in SingaporeMalaysia and Thailand that adopted Alipay, nearly 60% saw growth in foot traffic and revenue.

Many merchants surveyed said that mobile payment is a safe, reliable and effective payment method that resonates with Chinese shoppers. Of the merchants that adopted Alipay, 71% said they would recommend the mobile payment platform to peers. The white paper cited one case where a Malaysian merchant said, “Our store is located in an area frequented by Chinese tourists and they are our main customers. If we didn’t have mobile payment as an option, we would lose a lot of customers.”

Inspiry International COO Gao Zilong said, “The outbound travel craze among Chinese tourists offers an important opportunity to expand mobile payment globally, while mobile payment outside of our home market has a broad space for development.” Inspiry plans to bring China’s mobile payment experience and technology to global markets, while, as necessary, adjusting the approach in each market according to the policies put in place by local governments. The effort is expected to help drive the rapid development of the mobile payment industry worldwide.

Jung Min-seo


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