Mobile Payments

Catering to the Chinese

  • Why it matters

    Why it matters

    The average Chinese tourist spends €3,000 on a trip to Germany. Alipay and WeChat Pay payments could bring in even more cash to retailers.

  • Facts

    Facts

    • According to the Bavarian Retail Association, Chinese visitors to Munich drop about €513 a day.
    • WeChat Pay is Alipay’s top contender in China, with about 40 percent of the market share to Alipay’s 60 percent and a whopping 600 million customers.
    • At Munich airport, revenues from Chinese tourists spiked 92 percent after introducing Wirecard between July and October 2016.
  • Audio

    Audio

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Paying sans cash and plastic. Source: DPA Picture-Alliance

If there is anything that Chinese tourists love to do on vacation in Germany, it’s a good old-fashioned shopping spree. According to the Bavarian Retail Association, Chinese visitors to Munich drop about €513 a day on everything from cosmetics to jewelry to luxury clothes.

The average Chinese tourist spends €3,000 on trip to Germany, from shopping to accommodation and even extra perks, like shopping advisers who take care of tedious details like VAT refunds and customs paperwork. Now the transactions themselves are getting even more swift and convenient, as Chinese mobile payment apps are becoming readily available at more German retailers.

In China, the world leader in mobile payments, forking over cash and credit cards has started to become archaic. In big cities, most people don’t carry banknotes at all anymore, instead preferring to tap their smartphone screens everywhere from supermarkets to restaurants and hospitals.

Since 2015, the Munich-based financial services company Wirecard has been partnering with Alipay, the platform of online retail giant Alibaba, which counts more than 520 million users in China. The technology includes a small scanner and connector integrated into point of sale systems. Payments are made by scanning a unique barcode off a customer’s Alipay app.

At Munich airport, revenues from Chinese tourists spiked 92 percent after introducing Wirecard between July and October last year, according to the financial services company. Wirecard says the average transaction was about €750, but there have also been more than a number of exceptional splurges. The largest transaction to date has been €44,000.

Chinese mobile payments are currently accepted in around 2,000 branches of Rossman, Germany’s second-largest drugstore chain, household and cutlery manufacturer Zwilling, and at selected outlets of tableware manufacturer WMF as well.

Now Wirecard is expanding. The company announced this week a new deal with WeChat Pay available across European retailers. WeChat Pay owned by Chinese holding company Tencent, is Alipay’s top contender in China, with a whopping 600 million customers. The two companies account for more than 90 percent of China’s mobile wallet market.

Now Silicon Valley startup Stripe is also getting in on the action. The Paypal competitor said in a statement earlier this month it was partnering with Alipay and WeChat Pay on a global scale. Stripe launched in Germany three weeks ago.

Investors are watching Wirecard’s performance on the blue-chip TecDax closely. While it was traded for less than €20 at the beginning of 2013, the stock recently climbed to above €60, and it has increased by more than 50 percent since the beginning of the year.

Handelsblatt’s Stephan Scheuer is China correspondent and is based in Beijing. Christian Schnell writes about markets, shares and stock market launches. Handelsblatt Global writer Barbara Woolsey also contributed to this article. To contact the authors: scheuer@handelsblatt.comschnell@handelsblatt.com

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