Alipay, the world’s largest mobile payment and lifestyle platform, operated by Ant Financial Services Group, has announced that a group of Chinese travelers have concluded the first ever cashless journey to Finland, with all transactions throughout their trip made via their Alipay accounts. From booking flights, making local retail purchases in Helsinki, and dining out, to visiting museums, experiencing recreational activities, and managing transportation, as well as receiving an instant tax refund at the airport, Finland becomes the first country outside China where Alipay users can make all payments with their smartphones, and enjoy their trip without worrying about cash and language barriers, just as they would at home in China.
To encourage future seamless, cashless journeys, Alipay has also teamed up with Lähitaksi, one of Finland’s major taxi companies. Alipay will be made available on all 1,250 Lähitaksi taxis in Helsinki and the city’s surrounding towns before the Chinese Lunar New Year holidays later this month.
“More and more Chinese travelers have been asking whether our taxis accept Alipay, which is why we decided to launch this payment method and provide our Chinese passengers a better experience during their time in Helsinki,” said Heidi Säynäjoki, Marketing Manager of LähiTaksi. Since 2017, Alipay has also been made available at the Airport Taxi in Helsinki and in taxis and buses operated by local taxi company Santa Line across Finland’s northernmost region, Lapland.
The group of eight Chinese tourists who visited Finland were selected from an online social media campaign initiated by Alipay at the end of 2017. The selected group commenced on a 6-day trip, visiting the cities of Rovaniemi and Helsinki in mid-January to experience the cashless journey, flying Finnair and staying in Nova Skyland Hotel in Rovaniemi and IHG’s Holiday Inn Helsinki’s City Centre, leveraging Alipay’s in-app outbound tourism service platform to find nearby merchants, collect coupons and enjoy exclusive offers. All the merchants accept Alipay for online reservation and onsite spending. Finnair became the first airline in the world to accept mobile payments for in-flight purchases when it began accepting Alipay on flights between Helsinki and Shanghai in January 2017.
Zoe Cai, 28, a housewife and frequent overseas tourist from Guangdong Province, said, “I didn’t expect us to be able to use Alipay almost everywhere in Finland. I brought some cash with me, but the only place I got to use it was in a supermarket in Rovaniemi. At first, we were surprised when so many merchants accepted Alipay, but after this experience, we may be surprised if a merchant doesn’t accept Alipay when we travel next time.”
Retail shops in popular overseas destinations have benefited from the rise of China’s middle-class over the last decade. An increase in disposal income has led to a greater interest to travel abroad, where Chinese tourists enjoy experiencing different cultures, exotic cuisines and new adventures. Alipay has now become a must-have tool for overseas merchants to provide Chinese tourists with a seamless traveling experience.
Paavo Virkkunen, Executive Vice President of Finland’s national tourism board Visit Finland, said, “Alipay was first made available in Finland in December 2016. I am glad to see it is widely accepted among Finnish merchants today, and it demonstrates Finland’s commitment to ensure that Chinese visitors leave our country with an unforgettable experience.” Official statistics of Visit Finland show that China is Finland’s fifth largest source of tourist arrivals. ePassi is Alipay’s local partner in providing tailor-made solutions for various types of Finnish merchants to accept Alipay across the country.
Alipay is focused on upgrading the overseas Chinese travelers’ experience throughout their visit, enabling a cashless journey via mobile payment, thus omitting language and currency barriers. It offers Chinese consumers their most preferred payment method and offers greater convenience during their travels, particularly when making transactions with overseas bricks-and-mortar merchants. Alipay is now accepted by merchants across 38 countries and regions who connect with travelers via the Alipay marketing platform and accept payments in stores and online.