Mobile payments are more popular than cash for Chinese tourists

A new report from Nielson and Alipay has shown that 17% of Chinese tourists head to Australia when they travel abroad and they prefer to pay by mobile. Alipay, operated by Ant Financial Group, is the world's largest mobile payment platform and is used by 900 million users globally.

Australian financial institutions have started to recognise the opportunity and provided ways for merchants to offer it here. CommBank announced businesses would be able to accept Alipay through its Albert payment terminal in December 2018 and Tyro has integrated Alipay into two of Heinemann's retail locations.

Nielson and Alipay's report is based on a survey of over 2,800 outbound Chinese tourists, with the findings indicating the decision to offer Alipay is a smart move for businesses. According to the report, 58% of merchants surveyed in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand said their foot traffic increased when they started offering Alipay and 56% reported increased sales.

When visiting Australia, 68% of Chinese tourists said they made a mobile payment during their trip. They are also budgeting 15% more for spending money, on average $9,382 per trip. The majority of this will be spent on shopping, including souvenirs, arts and crafts, food and cosmetics. This is followed by accommodation, dining and tourist attractions.

However, Chinese tourists want to spend via mobile rather than cash. When asked how they paid for their recent overseas travels, those surveyed paid for 32% using mobile phones compared to 30% using cash. This was the first year mobile payments overtook cash as the preferred payment method when travelling, which may indicate mobile payments are becoming more widely accepted.

The contribution from Chinese tourism to the Australian economy is large and it is growing. For the year ending October 2018, there were over 1.4 million Chinese visitor arrivals in Australia. In the year ending December 2017, Chinese visitors contributed $10.4 billion into the economy and this is expected to rise to $13 billion by 2020.