Ant Group's Alipay+ to boost cashless travel in South Korea

Ant Group's Alipay+ to boost cashless travel in South Korea

People enjoy an autumn day near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas in Yeoncheon, South Korea, on Thursday. (Reuters photo)
People enjoy an autumn day near the demilitarised zone separating the two Koreas in Yeoncheon, South Korea, on Thursday. (Reuters photo)

HONG KONG: Chinese financial technology giant Ant Group is ramping up cashless travel in South Korea through its Alipay+ programme, which supports a major collaboration between trusted mobile payment services providers across Asia.

The collaboration will enable "Asian tourists to pay with convenience and simplicity in Korea using their preferred home e-wallets", said Danny Chung, general manager of Ant Group Korea, Australia and New Zealand. Ant Group is an affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding, which owns the South China Morning Post.

Users of e-wallets operated by AlipayHK in Hong Kong, GCash in the Philippines, Touch 'n Go in Malaysia and TrueMoney in Thailand can now settle transactions at more than 120,000 merchants in South Korea using their local mobile payment apps. The initial roll-out covers taxis, duty free shops, convenience stores as well as food and beverage chains.

This marks the first time that leading mobile payment providers from Southeast Asia and Hong Kong have extended the availability of their services in South Korea through Alipay+, which is a suite of global cross-border digital payments and marketing solutions. It is designed to enable businesses to process a wide range of mobile payment methods, while better serving regional and global consumers through simple technical adoption.

The collaboration backed by Alipay+ reflects efforts by Ant Group and other major Chinese internet companies to expand their businesses overseas, as domestic consumer spending weakens because of continued Covid-19 restrictions and the mainland's faltering economy.

In June, Ant Group announced a partnership with ComfortDelGro Taxi, Singapore's largest taxi operator, that enables cashless payments through Touch 'n Go and Kakao Pay, a South Korean digital wallet service.

Earlier the same month, Ant Group launched a digital banking service in Singapore to serve the needs of small businesses doing cross-border trades.

International travel across Asia, meanwhile, continues to rebound amid efforts by governments to remove all Covid-19 restrictions.

In early September, South Korea lifted the requirement for pre-travel Covid-19 tests for inbound travellers, following a decision to remove all quarantine requirements for overseas arrivals regardless of vaccination status.

More than 800,000 foreign tourists visited South Korea in the first half of this year, representing a 92.8% increase from the same period last year, according to data from the Korea Tourism Organisation. Tourists from member-countries of the Association of Southeast Asian Nations - including the Philippines, Thailand and Malaysia - accounted for 30.3% of all inbound arrivals to South Korea in the first half.

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