Ant Group and Mastercard, along with 12 overseas payment partners of Alipay+ and other major international card organisations, have extended the International Consumer Friendly Zones programme to Chengdu and Chongqing.

This expansion aims to accommodate the rising influx of international tourists and traders. Chengdu and Chongqing have emerged as prominent destinations, ranking among the top ten for inbound tourism in the first quarter of 2024.

With local government support, the programme by Ant Group and Mastercard will roll out over 60 primary shopping areas, tourist attractions, and key transport hubs, including international airports and high-speed railway stations.

Participating merchants will enhance payment signage to inform customers of the available digital payment methods supported by Ant Group and its partners.

In the first half of 2024, international visitor spending in Chengdu and Chongqing via digital payment methods supported by Ant Group and its partners increased 13 times year-on-year.

AlipayHK, Touch’ n Go eWallet (Malaysia), and TrueMoney (Thailand) were the top three e-wallets used by visitors. The number of merchants accepting Alipay+ payments grew more than five times year-on-year in both cities.

Ant Group now offers two mobile payment alternatives for international visitors in China. Alipay+ enables visitors to use their home e-wallets across China, supporting 12 leading e-wallets in Asia, including AlipayHK, Touch’ n Go eWallet, and TrueMoney.

Additionally, visitors can bind major international bank cards such as Mastercard, Visa, JCB, Discover®, and Diners Club International to the Alipay app, providing access to a range of local services without needing a mainland China bank account or phone number.

Following the initial rollout in Beijing and expansion to Guangzhou and Shanghai, Ant Group continues to work with partners to enhance digital payment accessibility for international travellers.

The China Tourism Academy expects inbound travel to reach 80 percent of pre-pandemic levels in 2024, driven by expanded visa-waiver policies and the resumption of international flights.

Featured image credit: Edited from Ant Group