Ant Group and Mastercard, along with 12 overseas payment partners of Alipay+ and other major international card organizations, have launched the International Consumer Friendly Zones program in Shanghai.

Ant Group said in a statement on Friday that the program is expanding the partnership aimed at enhancing the travel experience for global travelers and stimulating growth for local businesses in China.

With the support of relevant authorities and local governments, the program will see the participation of more than 20 primary shopping areas, renowned tourist attractions, both of Shanghai’s international airports, key high-speed railway stations, and taxi services with a fleet of 25,000 vehicles in the city.

Shanghai’s landmarks, including the Bund, the bustling Nanjing Road shopping district, and the iconic Oriental Pearl TV Tower, are also enlisted among the collaborative partners.

It is noted that Ant Group now offers two digital payment alternatives for overseas visitors in China.

Travelers can bind major international bank cards, including Visa, Mastercard, JCB, Discover, and Diners Club International to an Alipay app to access a rich array of local Alipay services from shopping, dining, ride-hailing to public transportation while in the Chinese mainland, without needing a local bank account or phone number.

In addition, Alipay+, a suite of cross-border mobile payment and digitalization technology solutions under Ant International, enables overseas consumers to pay with their home e-wallets across China.

Alipay+ now supports 12 leading e-wallets and payment apps in Asia for use across an 80-million-strong merchant network in China, including AlipayHK (Hong Kong SAR, China), (Kazakhstan), MPay (Macao SAR, China), Touch 'n Go eWallet (Malaysia), Hipay (Mongolia), NayaPay (Pakistan), Changi Pay (Singapore), OCBC Digital (Singapore), Kakao Pay (South Korea), Naver Pay (South Korea), Toss Pay (South Korea), TrueMoney (Thailand).

Following the initial rollout of the program in Beijing and subsequent expansion to Guangzhou in April, Ant Group has been working intimately with partners to improve the two digital payment options' accessibility and ease of use for international travelers.

This includes bolstering bilingual assistance and providing detailed user manuals.

In Shanghai, participating merchants will also enhance payment signage visibility to clearly inform customers about the array of digital payment methods supported by Ant Group.

It is noted that amid rising inbound travel, spending by international visitors to Shanghai via the two digital payment alternatives by Ant Group between January and April climbed 13 times on year.

“The introduction of the International Consumer Friendly Zones in Shanghai signifies a major advancement in our efforts to enrich inbound tourism experience and bolster local business, especially considering the city’s critical role in China’s global interactions,” said Fu Lu, Director of Cross-border Business in Greater China, Ant Group.

Going forward, Ant Group said it will integrate more card organizations and overseas digital wallets for utilization in China and introduce new joint user campaigns.

Meanwhile, Mastercard said that joining the International Consumer Friendly Zones program enables foreign travelers to make seamless and safe payments, just like locals do.

As international inbound traffic to China continues to recover, Mastercard said it looks forward to partnering with Ant Group to enhance inbound payment convenience, boost
consumption and build a more inclusive payment ecosystem.

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