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Alipay expands language options, boosting convenience for foreign users in China

Maria (R) scans a QR code on a vending machine at the Yenching Academy of Peking University in Beijing, capital of China, April 13, 2023. (Xinhua/Ren Chao)

Alipay enhances user experience for foreigners in China by adding 16 languages and improving payment service accessibility.

BEIJING, CHINA – Jennifer Anzora, a Salvadoran student studying in Beijing, routinely used Alipay to pay for her coffee. She was pleasantly surprised to see that her native language, Spanish, had been added to the app.

The mobile payment experience is very convenient, efficient and foreigner-friendly,” said Anzora. “By linking my Visa card to the Alipay app, I can pay just like locals.”

Alipay announced that it would be expanding the number of languages available on its platform from two, Chinese and English, to 16. This allows foreign users to access features such as text translation, voice translation, photo translation, all with the simple click of the “Translate” button on the home page.

The translation services offered by Alipay can also be applied to various services within the app, such as taxi hailing, hotel booking, purchasing tickets for scenic spots, public transportation, and checking exchange rates.

The enhancement of payment services follows China’s recent initiatives aimed at enhancing the convenience of payment services for foreigners. With mobile payment emerging as the predominant method of payment in China, it is significant to make mobile payment services more accessible to foreigners who primarily rely on bank cards and cash.

Among the recent measures rolled out by the government, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), the central bank, has instructed major payment platforms to increase the single transaction limit from 1,000 U.S. dollars to 5,000 dollars and the annual cumulative transaction cap from 10,000 dollars to 50,000 dollars for overseas travelers using mobile payments.

Efforts are also afoot to address concerns about privacy raised by foreign users. According to a recent payment guide for foreigners released by the PBOC, no ID information is required for transactions under a certain amount when foreigners use mobile payments such as Alipay and WeChat Pay.

Chinese banks are actively expanding the acceptance of overseas bank cards and simplifying cash transactions across the country to ensure a seamless payment experience for foreign users.

The Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (ICBC), the nation’s largest lender, has equipped 130,000 merchants with POS terminals that accept a wide range of international credit cards.

Additionally, the Agricultural Bank of China has committed to increasing the acceptance coverage of foreign cards in key sectors and regions to exceed 90 percent. The Bank of Communications has announced plans to raise the coverage rate of foreign cards at key merchants to no less than 80 percent by the end of March, with a target of achieving full coverage by mid-April of this year.

To enhance cash services, over 60,000 bank outlets nationwide now offer foreign currency exchange services. International travelers can also acquire RMB banknotes or digital RMB through self-service kiosks located at airports, border ports and other key locations.

Wang Jing, manager of a cultural and artistic workshop in Beijing, said the workshop has witnessed a notable rebound in the number of foreign customers since last year.

It’s worth noting that many young foreign tourists are adept at using mobile payment services as proficiently as Chinese users,” Wang observed. The workshop now offers various payment options, including credit card, mobile payment, and cash, to cater to the diversified payment demand of foreign visitors.

Dong Ximiao, chief researcher at Merchants Union Consumer Finance Company Limited, emphasized the importance of enhancing the acceptance of foreign cards, expanding the availability of POS terminals that accept international cards, and lowering transaction fees for foreign cardholders.

Dong also suggested efforts to impose stricter penalties for refusing cash payments to cultivate a more favorable payment environment for foreigners.

Co-Founder & Chief Editor - TravelDailyNews Media Network | + Articles

Vicky is the co-founder of TravelDailyNews Media Network where she is the Editor-in Chief. She is also responsible for the daily operation and the financial policy. She holds a Bachelor's degree in Tourism Business Administration from the Technical University of Athens and a Master in Business Administration (MBA) from the University of Wales. She has many years of both academic and industrial experience within the travel industry. She has written/edited numerous articles in various tourism magazines.