Alipay, the digital payment platform with 520 million users, partnered with online review company Yelp to help Chinese travelers find hotels, restaurants and attractions in New York City, Los Angeles, Las Vegas and San Francisco, according to a news release made available to Mobile Marketer via email. The companies will add more cities this year, a statement said.
The Alipay app's Discover tab provides access to Yelp content, which provides directions to destinations and customer reviews in English. Users can make reservations at restaurants and pay in Chinese yuan at businesses that accept Alipay.
About 4 million Chinese travelers are forecast to visit North America this year, Alipay said. The company works with more than 250 financial institutions and payment solution providers to enable cross-border payments for Chinese people traveling outside the country.
Payments companies like to emphasize how their services do more than just transfer money from one account to another, instead helping to create "priceless" experiences. Alipay's partnership with Yelp is another example of how mobile wallets want to do more than just facilitate payments. As Alipay says, the company is evolving "from a digital wallet to a lifestyle enabler." The Alipay app lets users hail a taxi, book a hotel, buy movie tickets, pay utility bills, make appointments with doctors and manage investments.
Among Chinese payment processors, Alipay had an approximately 54% share of total mobile transaction value while Tencent's WeChat Pay had 40% in Q1 2017, according to market research firm Analysys. China's urban areas are quickly becoming cashless with the popularity of mobile payments, The New York Times reported, and the Alipay-Yelp partnership points to how that traction could pick up stateside as more U.S. businesses attempt to accommodate tourists. China's mobile payments market in 2016 was $5.5 trillion, roughly 50x the size of the $112 billion market in the U.S., according to consulting firm iResearch.
For Yelp, the partnership with Alipay opens up a potentially significant new audience for its city guides. The company has been active in tying its content to more transaction-based services. Just last week, it partnered with Curbside to help people shop in the Yelp app and pick up items locally.