|Alibaba has announced plans to launch its Alipay mobile payment service in Europe this summer.|
CRI's Victor Ning has the details.
Beginning this summer, users will be able to make payments through the Alipay app in France, Germany, Italy and the UK.
Lu Jun with Alibaba says in addition to serving as a payment option, Alipay can also help Chinese tourists plan their trips while abroad.
"Before when people traveled aboard, they usually had a hard time finding local points of interest. Now when they open Alipay, they can easily find recommendations on restaurants, sights and other places to visit. While shopping, they can also use Alipay to make payments, or even receive discounts. The vendors can also use Alipay to promote themselves and reach more Chinese customers."
Alibaba hasn't said which local businesses in Europe will accept Alipay, as negotiations are still underway.
The move marks Alipay's biggest expansion out of Asia so far.
Alibaba started moving Alipay into the global market in 2014.
It's now available for use at some 60-thousand businesses outside the Chinese mainland.
Lu Jun says Alipay has already built an impressive network in Asia.
"In South Korea alone, around 30,000 shops and businesses accept Alipay. In Seoul's famous Myeongdong commercial district, most vendors now accept the app. In Japan, our partners include a number of large shopping malls, electronics and appliance stores, as well as convenience stores like 7-Elevens. We also work with some duty-free shops in Thailand, and the Universal Studios theme parks in Singapore. "
Alibaba expects a total of one-million vendors outside the mainland to begin accepting Alipay within the next three years.
The company is ramping up its services outside the mainland to try to keep up with the growing number of Chinese people travelling abroad.
Last year, around 120 million Chinese traveled to foreign destinations.
The World Travel & Tourism Council estimates Chinese tourists spent around 215 billion US dollars abroad, doubling their spending from the year before.
Alipay is launching in Europe in partnership with Wirecard, an IT provider for payment processing.
Wirecard Executive Vice President Susanne Steidl says mobile payments have a bright future.
"Everything is focusing on a mobile phone. All additional gadgets will be reduced. No more cameras, and in the future, also no more credit cards, no more cash. All will be focused within the mobile phone, which is more convenient for the customer; it's safer for the customers. And it gives more transparency to the customer because he sees all the transactions and his available money, all on his phone, without having to logon to 20 different websites. "
Alibaba says its payment app currently processes 170 million transactions per day worldwide.
For CRI, I'm Victor Ning.