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China’s Alipay Extends its Footprint into Thailand’s Online Services

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BANGKOK – Thailand’s Tourism Authority of Thailand(TAT) and China’s giant mobile payment platform Alipay on Monday signed a letter of intent (LOI) to create additional online services to facilitate Chinese tourist travels in Thailand.

Zhang Yong, general-manager of Alipay of Ant Financial Services Group, an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, said at a press conference held in Bangkok that Alipay will be offering tourism privileges to members who travel to Thailand, such as discounts on shopping, spas in hotels in the second tier and main tourism provinces.

“We (Alipay) and the TAT have both agreed in the LOI that the new mobile application will facilitate Chinese tourists in enjoying services without needing to carry cash while in Thailand,” said Zhang Yong, “however, we have not set a definite date yet but it is likely that Alipay will be able to roll out the new service in September.”

TAT Governor Yuthasak Supasorn said at the press conference that Thailand remains a popular destination amongst Chinese travelers.

“I must express my gratitude to the Chinese moive ‘Lost in Thailand,’ that was released in 2012, which has led to a wave of Chinese tourists visiting the Kingdom,” said Yuthasak.

The TAT report quoted the China Tourism Academy’s 2018 statistics, indicating that 10.5 million Chinese visitors arrived in Thailand, hence having Thailand topping the tourism destinations among Chinese.

TAT’s press release stated that Alipay is the world’s largest mobile and online payment platform with 900 million members.

Yuthasak said that earlier in May, TAT and Alipay had agreed to roll out two systems, Zhima and Huabei, to help Alipay members complete visa-on-arrival and immigration procedures, as well as value-added tax (VAT) refunds.

The Zhima system allows members to fill in information and submit documents and files through applications for visas on arrival.

In theory, Alipay members will not have to wait in a long queue upon arrival in Thailand if they use the app.

The Huabei system meanwhile, offers revolving credit lines for Alipay users who need spare cash. The system lets Alipay members top up their credit limit while spending through Alipay in Thailand.

The TAT press release said Chinese tourists spent an average of 55,579 baht (1,746 US dollars) per person per trip in 2018, up 5.1 percent year-on-year, generating 586,471 million baht (18.4 million US dollars), an increase of 12.6 percent.