Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate which runs the Alipay payments service, announced partnerships with European banks on Tuesday as it continues to expand in the region.
Ant Financial runs China's biggest payments service, Alipay, which has a total of 450 million active users and processes 170 million transactions per day. The expansion into Europe is aimed at Chinese users traveling abroad. Alipay is deeply ingrained in the lives of Chinese consumers and is used to pay for items in-store and online, for goods and services ranging from taxis to restaurants and clothing.
The partnership with BNP Paribas will allow Alipay payments to be facilitated via the bank's merchant network in France and later in Europe. With Barclays, Alipay will be able to tap the U.K. market. SIX is a payment service provider that will help Alipay expand onto e-commerce platforms and in-store across Europe. And UniCredit will aid Alipay in launching the payment service in Italy next year.
Alipay first expanded into Europe in October 2015 in Germany and has since been working on getting merchants using its platform. The payments service is now available to use in locations such as famous London department store Harrods and Munich airport. Users can also process tax refunds via the app in 23 European countries.
Ant Financial said that at the end of the third quarter of 2016, excluding mainland China, it had a network of close to 100,000 retailers in 70 countries and regions.