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AntGroup and Mastercard will expand worldwide consumer-friendly zones programme for China inbound tourism

Chinese fintech company AntGroup, American payment firm Mastercard, 12 Alipay+ overseas payment partners, and other key international card organisations have extended the International Consumer Friendly Zones programme to facilitate inbound travel to China.

Chinese fintech company Ant Group, American payment firm Mastercard, 12 Alipay+ overseas payment partners, and other key international card organisations have extended the International Consumer Friendly Zones programme to facilitate inbound travel to China.

As foreign tourism and trade flourish, Ant Group said on Wednesday that they had expanded the programme to Chengdu and Chongqing in Western China. Chengdu and Chongqing are popular tourist destinations, the document says.

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Both cities were among the top 10 inbound tourism destinations in Q1 2024. The International Consumer Friendly Zones programme will be implemented in over 60 key commercial areas, tourist attractions, international airports, and high-speed railway stations in the two cities with local government cooperation.

The participating merchants will improve payment signage to notify clients about Ant Group and its partners’ digital payment solutions. Chengdu, the capital of Sichuan Province known for its gigantic pandas, saw 410,000 foreign visitors and exits in the first five months of 2024, up more than five times from the previous year.

In the first quarter, foreign arrivals at Chongqing’s international airport, renowned as the Mountain City of China, increased sixfold. ASEAN visitors visiting China also frequent the two cities, which are connected by a fast train in just over an hour.

Sichuan’s biggest trading partner in 2023 was ASEAN. The Chongqing Connectivity Initiative is the third China-Singapore government-to-government project and the only one in western China.

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Alipay+ allows foreign travellers use their native e-wallets in China. Alipay+ supports 12 Asian e-wallets and payment apps across 80 million merchants in China, including AlipayHK, Kaspi.kz, MPay, Touch ‘n Go eWallet, Hipay, NayaPay, Changi Pay, OCBC Digital, Kakao Pay, Naver Pay, Toss Pay, and TrueMoney.

Visitors can also bind major international bank cards like Mastercard, Visa, JCB, Discover®, and Diners Club International to the Alipay app to use a wide range of local Alipay services like shopping, dining, ride-hailing, and public transportation without a mainland China bank account or phone number.

As inbound travel recovers, it has been working closely with partners to improve international travellers’ digital payment options since the program’s launch in Beijing and expansion to Guangzhou and Shanghai earlier this year.

The China Tourism Academy predicts inbound traffic to reach 80% of pre-pandemic levels in 2024 due to the expansion of China’s visa-waiver policies and the gradual restoration of international flights.

About Mastercard

Mastercard is a worldwide payments technology firm. In order to connect and power an inclusive digital economy that benefits everyone, they make transactions safe, simple, smart, and accessible.

About AntGroup

AntGroup provide the infrastructure and platform for service industry digitization. They aim to provide inclusive, green, and sustainable financial and other services to all consumers and small enterprises.

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