Chinese FinTech firm Ant Group has partnered Malaysian payment firm PayNet to promote payment for inbound and outbound Malaysian travelers.

The duo said in a statement on Tuesday that they have signed a memorandum of understanding (MOU) recently to allow more Asian travelers to Malaysia to enjoy a seamless digital payment experience at over 1.8 million merchants across the country.

The partnership also allowed Malaysian residents to be able to pay with e-wallets of their home country abroad.

By the end of this year, users of five leading Asian e wallets, including AlipayHK (Hong Kong SAR), GCash (Philippines), Kakao Pay (South Korea) and TrueMoney (Thailand), will be able to use cashless payments when they travel to Malaysia with Alipay+, the global cross-border digital payments and marketing solutions operated by Ant Group, by scanning DuitNow QR.

More e-wallets are expected to join in the coming months.

DuitNow QR is Malaysia’s National QR Standard operated by PayNet that allows merchants to accept real-time payments from customers of different participating banks and e-wallet operators using a unified QR code.

According to the statement, the partnership will enable all Malaysian e-wallets supported by PayNet to be accepted by Alipay+ merchants network globally in 2024.

Beyond payments, Ant Group and PayNet will also collaborate on joint digital marketing efforts to enhance visibility of businesses directly within the users’ e-wallets.

“This partnership between PayNet and Alipay+ is forged at a vital time when overseas travel and tourism have fully resumed, and rapidly increasing,” said Gary Yeoh,Chief Commercial Officer of PayNet.

According to him, consumers and merchants in both countries who are already accustomed to digital payments expect the same seamless and hassle-free experience when travelling overseas.

He said they also expect this to be conducted at competitive exchange rates.

Thus, he sees this collaboration to address both these needs.

“Since Malaysia has long been a favorite and popular destination with Asian tourists, and vice-versa, this collaboration will likely result in higher trade growth between the two nations,

“We do see the proliferation of seamless international payments at scale sooner than we think. It is just a matter of time,” he added.

The collaboration comes amidst travel recovery to Malaysia, with 4.5 million tourist arrivals in the first quarter of 2023, with most coming from ASEAN countries.

Malaysia is expected to achieve its target of 16.1 million tourist arrivals in 2023 and generate more than 49 billion ringgit ($10.56 billion) in tourism revenue.

As travel rebounds, both parties reckoned that it is vital for businesses to adapt to new digital habits, particularly the acceptance of localized digital payment options like e-wallets, which has become the norm for day-to-day transactions.

They noted that Southeast Asian users will continue to drive the use of QR code payments, which is expected to grow 590 percent by 2028, and other Asian countries like South Korea will also see accelerated adoption.

“Alipay+’s collaboration with PayNet is a significant development for regional travellers,

“We are jointly making efforts to bring local businesses and international visitors closer together, offering not just convenience to tourists but greater opportunities and visibility for Malaysian businesses,” said Dr Cherry Huang, General Manager of Alipay+ Offline Merchant Services, Ant.

According to him, travelers today have greater expectations when they travel, particularly the use of digital solutions to enhance their experience.

“They want it to be simpler, with less complexity and less hassle, and in working with our local partners, this is exactly what we want to achieve – personalized, seamless and borderless experiences,” he said.

Alipay+ is a suite of global cross-border digital payments and marketing solutions designed to enable businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, to process a wide range of mobile payment methods and reach more than 1 billion regional and global consumers, through one-time integration and simple technical adaption.

In addition to Malaysia, Alipay+ is also widely accepted in destinations including the Chinese mainland, Macao SAR, Singapore, Thailand, Japan and South Korea among others.

As for PayNet, this would be yet another successful cross-border collaboration after Thailand, Indonesia, and Singapore.

These interlinkages connect a sizeable portion of digital payments customers in ASEAN, which is one of the most active digital payments markets in the world.

Ant is a firm aims to create the infrastructure and platform to support the digital transformation of the service industry.

The firm is the owner and operator of Alipay, the leading digital payment platform in China serving hundreds of millions of users, and connecting them with merchants and partner financial institutions that offer inclusive financial services and digital daily life services such as food delivery, transport, entertainment, and healthcare.

PayNet is a payments network and central financial infrastructure for Malaysia with the vision to empower Malaysia’s digital economy.

Its extensive retail payments suite, DuitNow (QR and P2P), JomPAY (Bill Payments), FPX (Online), MyDebit (Domestic Debit), MEPS (ATM), and IBG (Interbank GIRO) has near ubiquitous coverage across the nation and is part of the daily fabric of life in Malaysia.

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