Tech

Alipay has tripled its merchants in Europe amid 'booming' Chinese tourism market

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Alipay seeing hypergrowth outside of China, European company head says

Alipay is making big inroads in Europe as Chinese tourists flock to the region, according to the leader of the Chinese firm's European division.

Roland Palmer, head of Europe for Alipay, told CNBC on Tuesday the company has tripled the number of European merchants accepting its online and mobile payment platform to "tens of thousands" in the past year.

"We're talking about tens of thousands of merchants who are really excited about the opportunity that Alipay provides them to tap into those wealthy and middle class consumers who are traveling to see the world and want to buy great brands from Europe," Palmer said in an interview from the Money20/20 Europe conference in Amsterdam.

Alipay is owned by Ant Financial, a private Chinese tech giant worth $150 billion as of last year. Palmer said the company's payments platform Alipay has "around one billion" active users. He added that 55 countries now accept Alipay around the world, with 29 countries in Europe alone.

Chinese consumers have been some of the fastest adopters of digital payments. A 2018 study from accounting firm EY found 83 percent of Chinese consumers make payments or money transfers on their phones.

Trade tensions with the U.S. and slowing economic growth led to recent concerns over the health of the Chinese economy. But Palmer dismissed fears about weakness among Chinese consumers saying tourism is "booming" in Europe.

This has presented an opportunity for European merchants, especially luxury brand stores, looking to cash in on an influx of tourists, Palmer said.

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