Singapore-based F&B tech startup Chope and Alipay, the digital payment platform operated by China-based Ant Group, announced a strategic partnership on Thursday, working together to accelerate digitalisation of F&B businesses across Asia.

Through this strategic partnership, Alipay will provide Chope with its mini program Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) and know-how, while Chope becomes Alipay’s platform partner with the capability to integrate a variety of mini programs quickly and flexibly, enhancing the functionality and scalability of Chope’s platform, Chope said in a statement.

“The pandemic has fueled the adoption of digital solutions and services among F&B operators. For some, the extreme restrictions have forced them to finally adapt to digital lifestyles not only to remain competitive but to survive,” The Chope Group Chief Executive Officer Arrif Ziaudeen said. “Our partnership with Alipay comes at an opportune time to help lead this evolutionary step-change. We look forward to not only the F&B industry’s recovery but also growth in the region, and we believe that building an open mini program ecosystem will be a powerful enabler of that.”

Businesses of all sizes will now be able to easily integrate into the Chope app through mini programs, which are easy to build, highly-customisable and cost-effective.

This allows F&B operators to reach Chope’s millions of users, leverage Alipay’s innovative technology and digitalise their operations in one fell swoop – providing speedy access to market, and a truly omni-channel experience.

Meanwhile, diners can look forward to a wider variety of F&B types and dining services on the Chope app.

From reservations to table management, marketing, deals, and delivery, Chope has built a comprehensive offering and aggregated a fragmented market, forming a strong foundation for the Alipay partnership.

“We are constantly striving to support the digital transformation of the service industries including F&B, and we strongly believe in an open ecosystem approach so that our partners can make the most use of our capabilities such as the mini program SaaS,” said Cherry Huang, General Manager, Global Merchant Partnership, South and Southeast Asia, Alipay. “With Chope’s integration with Alipay’s mini program, we look forward to supporting the recovery of local F&B businesses and helping them thrive.”

This strategic partnership also comes as the local F&B industry continues to tackle the challenges brought upon by the ongoing pandemic, signaling both firms’ continued commitment to the recovery of the local F&B industry.

Arrif told The Business Times, Alipay has made a $15 million equity investment in Chope. The funding is part of the strategic partnership.

“This will enable Chope’s growth and expansion plans in the region. The commitment and resources that Alipay provides will do much in driving speed and scalability in Chope’s vision to digitise Asia’s F&B industry,” he was quoted as saying.

Founded in 2011 and currently in seven cities, Chope has grown consistently over the past 10 years. Its restaurant partners include The Lo & Behold Group, JUMBO Group, Soho Hospitality, Lost Heaven, Dining Concepts, Hospitality Management Asia, Ismaya Group and The Union Group.

Chope’s ecosystem is further enriched by key partnerships with the likes of Google, TripAdvisor, Meituan Dianping, DBS and CapitaLand.