Many friends living in Singapore noticed this news today on both The Straits Times and Lianhe Zaobao:
According to the reporting (especially that on Lianhe Zaobao), Alipay is launching a digital wallet very soon for Singapore’s banking users.
This is probably a PR mistake – Alipay has no immediate plans to launch a digital wallet in Singapore. The merchants are accepting Alipay for Chinese tourists visiting Singapore.
This is a significant market. According to Singapore Tourism Board, in 2016 China became the top origin country for tourists visiting Singapore, with a total of 2.86 million arrivals. Chinese tourists are also the top spenders among peers: during the first 3 quarters of 2016, they spent S$2.8 billion (US$2.1 billion) in Singapore.
This market was previously dominated by UnionPay, a payment card network similar to Visa & MasterCard. Just like in China, Alipay (and WeChat Pay) are chipping their market share away, especially in small payments at merchants.
In payment industry, developing a network of merchants is absolutely imperative but indeed tough work. Acquiring banks and payment companies tend to employ third parties to do it. CCPay, which was featured in the news, is one of the partners Alipay is working with in Singapore. There are a few others, including Uniweb Pay, which also runs restaurant recommendation portal singeat.com.
In addition to tourist payment acceptance, Ant Financial (the company that operates Alipay) has two other businesses in the region:
- HelloPay, a regional payment gateway originally developed by Lazada (now 83% owned by Alibaba Group) and subsequently rebranded as Alipay.
- Investment in major digital wallets in the region and fostering their growth: so far investment has been made in the Philippines (Mynt) and Thailand (Ascend Money), and strategic partnership announced with Emtek in Indonesia.
So, now when you come across Alipay banners and stickers everywhere in Singapore, including on the in-vehicle screens of taxis, you know what they are for 😉