Alipay+, the payment platform of China-based Ant Group, announced Monday that it has partnered LankaPay, Sri Lanka’s National Payment Network, to enhance digital travel experience to and from Sri Lanka.

In a joint statement, the duo said that they have recently signed an memorandum of understanding (MoU) towards enhancing inbound and outbound travel experience through cross-border digital payments, enabling users of Alipay+ payment partners to make payments seamlessly at over 400,000 LankaQR merchants across Sri Lanka.

According to the statement, the partnership will also enable Sri Lankans to use their LankaQR enabled apps to scan and pay at Alipay+ merchants globally when traveling overseas.

It is noted that by early 2024, users of leading Asian e-wallets from the region including Hong Kong SAR, Philippines, Singapore, South Korea and Thailand, will be able to use cashless payments when they travel to Sri Lanka with Alipay+ – a suite of global cross-border digital payments, marketing and digitalization solutions operated by Ant Group – by simply scanning LankaQR.

It is also noted that more e-wallets are expected to join in the near future.

LankaQR is a project initiated by the Central Bank of Sri Lanka to ensure all QR codes and QR based transactions in Sri Lanka are standardized and interoperable.

Introduced in 2020, LankaQR network is managed and operated by LankaPay, the operator of Sri Lanka’s National Payment Network.

“We are delighted to announce this important partnership with Alipay+, which is a significant milestone in our endevour to facilitate seamless cross-border transactions in support of our vision to become a global player in digital payments,” said Channa de Silva, Chief Executive Officer of LankaPay.

He believes this partnership will provide greater convenience to Asian tourists visiting Sri Lanka and a more acceptable proposition especially to the small and medium-sized enterprise (SME) merchants with substantially low commission rate compared to card payments.

“Therefore, we envisage that our efforts will invariably motivate more SME merchants to come onboard digital platforms, which is essential in developing the country’s digital eco-system to propel the the tourism industry and the national economy,” he added.

According to the statement, all e-wallets supported by LankaPay will be accepted by Alipay+ global merchant network by end of 2024, enabling Sri Lankans traveling overseas to simply pay with their familiar home e-wallet.

Alipay+ is currently accepted at tens of millions of merchants in more than 50 countries.

Alipay+ and LankaPay will also be partnering on joint marketing efforts to promote Sri Lanka as a tourist destination and tourism-related local businesses overseas.

“Alipay+ continues to accelerate the shift towards digital travel in more regions through our integrations with national standardized QR codes, this time in Sri Lanka with LankaPay,” said Dr. Cherry Huang, General Manager of Alipay+ Offline Merchant Services, Ant Group.

“As global travel recovers, we’ve noticed a shift in travel preferences, including travelers’ heightened expectations of how digital solutions should enhance their travel experience and greater interest in visiting previously less-explored destinations,

“That’s why we’re really excited at how our partnership with LankaPay will allow tourists to explore the wonders of Sri Lanka more easily, while also helping them discover and pay more conveniently at local merchants, which drives growth opportunities for local businesses,” he added.

According to the statement, Sri Lanka is experiencing a boom in tourism, recording more than 1 million tourists from January – September this year, surpassing the 720,000 in the whole of 2022.

Since January, there has been a month-on-month increase in arrivals, and in September, the number of tourists increased by 275 percent compared to the previous year.

The Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority is optimistic of exceeding their target of 1.5 million visitors for the year.

As a result, it has generated more than $1.3 billion for the tourism sector as of August, up 56 percent from the year before.

With China opening up their borders earlier this year for their citizens to travel overseas, Alipay+ and LankaPay opined that Sri Lanka has the potential to attract from a larger base of Chinese and Asian tourists.

As Asian consumers are savvy in using digital solutions like e-wallet payments, they opined that local businesses must adapt to these new digital habits.

The also opined the acceptance of LankaQR by merchants big and small across the country will encourage tourists to make seamless payments at more attractions in Sri Lanka.

This would be in line with the Sri Lanka Tourism Development Authority’s initiative to promote lesser-known attractions of the island.

Introduced by Ant Group in 2020, Alipay+ enables local businesses, especially small and medium-sized businesses, to process a wide range of mobile payment methods and reach more than 1.4 billion regional and global consumers, through one-time integration and simple technical adaptation.

Alipay+ enables digital payments from e-wallets, banks apps and buy-now-pay-later (BNPL) apps to be accepted at millions of merchants globally within the Alipay+ ecosystem.

It is widely accepted in popular travel destinations including the Chinese mainland, Macao SAR, Singapore, Malaysia, Thailand, Japan, South Korea, UAE, Italy, France and Spain among others.

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