- Mall of America (MOA) announced on Monday a partnership with Citcon, a Chinese provider of international mobile payment and marketing services, to cater to tourists who shop while visiting the U.S. Citcon's mobile payment service will be deployed in select MOA shops, guest services and Nickelodeon Universe, the theme park inside the mall, according to a statement.
- Citcon lets merchants accept QR code-based mobile wallets such as Alipay and WeChat Pay, which more than 1 billion Chinese consumers use for payment and communications at home and abroad.
- The solution aims to help merchants reduce friction in the checkout process and offer easier payments anywhere in the store. It also helps users claim coupons and find nearby stores with location services.
The partnership is important for MOA, as China has been the world's number one outbound tourism country for five consecutive years, with spending from Chinese tourists abroad making up 21% of all tourism spending. In 2020, 5 million Chinese travelers are expected to spend $80 billion in the U.S. alone.
This comes as China has leapfrogged the U.S. in the adoption of mobile payments, especially in some urban areas that have become mostly cashless, and the developing country's growing middle class has started to expect similar conveniences while traveling abroad. MOA's partnership with Citcon is another way to appeal to Chinese travelers, many of whom enjoy shopping or visiting popular tourist destinations while they visit the U.S.
About two-thirds (65%) of Chinese tourists have used mobile payments while traveling overseas, compared with only 11% of non-Chinese tourists, according to a study by researcher Nielsen and Alipay. What's most significant for MOA and other U.S. merchants who focus on catering to tourists, more than 90% of Chinese tourists said they'd use mobile payments overseas if they were given the option, signaling that merchants may want to consider implementing the capability to encourage greater spending. Chinese tourists expressed "convenience and speed, and familiarity" as the primary reasons for using mobile payment while abroad.
Chinese tourists also have strong spending power. During their most recent trip overseas, these consumers spent an average of $762 a person on shopping, exceeding the amount by non-Chinese tourists at $486. Duty-free shops ranked as the most popular shopping outlet for Chinese tourists, favored by 62%, followed by department stores (47%) and supermarkets (47%), according to Nielsen.