Mashreq Bank, one of the oldest privately-owned banks of the UAE recently announced its plan of expanding partnership with Alipay, the Chinese mobile payments provider. Mashreq Bank expects its retailers to grow from 150 at present to 1000 with the next three months due to the influx of Chinese visitors to the UAE.
Alipay, the mobile payment platform with 600 million users in China entered into a tie up in February 2018, enabling Chinese customers to make payments using Alipay digital wallets on tablet and smartphones at merchant outlets in the UAE. Dubai organizations and companies have been partnering with Chinese companies to facilitate the visit of Chinese tourists to the emirate.
Pankaj Kundra, head of payments, Mashreq Bank, has been reported to say that 20% to 25% of all purchases made by Chinese visitors in the UAE are expected to be made through Alipay. However, he did not reveal the value of the transactions, only mentioning that the figure runs to tens of millions of dirhams and that the transactions in the UAE has risen by 16 times between April and June 2018.
A system for visa-on-arrival was introduced for Chinese tourists in 2016 as Dubai was looking to boost its tourism scenario. Dubai tourism reportedly claimed that during the first half of 2018, the number of Chinese tourists to Dubai has surged by 9% to 453,000 as compared to the same period in 2017. Mashreq has equipped 150 of its retail partners with the technology to facilitate Alipay transactions but with the surge of Chinese tourists, Mashreq is planning to equip 1000 retail partners with technology to handle Alipay transactions. These retail partners are expected to include luxury goods, hotels, jewelry brand and fashion retailers.
Mr. Kundra said that the decision has been based on the fact that Chinese are among the dominant nationalities visiting the UAE and a majority of them prefer to use their smartphone to make payments rather than cards.
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