When Chinese tourists travel to Europe, many head for the continent's luxury boutiques in order to snap up high-end fashion items. But as an increasing number of people from the world's second-largest economy jet off around the globe, mid-market shoppers are also on the rise, with a taste for high street brands.
Some 200 million people from mainland China are expected to travel abroad each year by 2020, according to investment bank CLSA – double last year's figure. And one Swiss company has struck a deal with China's version of PayPal to exploit this potential.
Global Blue, which allows foreign shoppers to buy goods tax-free, announced a tie up with Alipay, the payments arm of China's e-retail giant Alibaba empire, last month. The move allows Chinese consumers abroad to be reimbursed the VAT paid on goods and services purchased from retailers signed up with Global Blue.
David Baxby, CEO of Global Blue, said the "demand-driven" deal was in response to Chinese consumers wanting the convenience of using Alipay to reclaim taxes.
"What we found is that when travelers were coming through our network, getting the refunds here in Europe, they were asking: 'Can I put this in my Alipay account?'", Baxby told CNBC in a TV interview.