Chinese consumers in the US can now use Alipay to pay for purchases at over 3,000 Walgreens drugstores, as Chinese mobile payments operators continue to expand overseas.
Walgreens is the latest in a string of retailers outside mainland China to accept Ant Financial Services’ Alipay as a payments method. Alipay is currently working with merchants in over 40 countries and regions, recently adding Germany’s Oktoberfest and San Francisco’s Pier 39 to its list of merchant partners.
By April, over 7,000 Walgreens stores are expected to have Alipay installed as a payments method, helping to raise the profile of the operator in the US. The American drugstore chain operates almost 10,000 stores throughout the US.
“We are excited to partner with a company that has been trusted across America since 1901, and is constantly evolving to provide more Chinese consumers with a seamless and familiar way to pay,” said Yulei Wang, general manager of Alipay North America, in a statement on Wednesday.
Walgreens president of operations Richard Ashworth said that the chain is focused on “making shopping more convenient for our customers, including Chinese consumers.”
Alipay is one of two dominant players in the Chinese mobile payments market with over 1 billion annual active users around the globe, the other being Tencent Holdings’ WeChat Pay, which has 900 million monthly active users.
Both platforms have been credited with helping to drive China’s move towards a cashless society, in which hundreds of millions of merchants and users conduct mobile transactions for everything from groceries to meals and transport to entertainment.
Alipay and WeChat Pay have, in recent years, made a concerted overseas push to capture a share of the lucrative growth in Chinese outbound tourism. Chinese tourists took 140 million trips overseas last year, according to China’s Ministry of Tourism.
The two online payments platforms allow Chinese tourists to pay for their overseas shopping directly within the Alipay and WeChat apps, with purchases settled in yuan. Use of credit cards, by comparison, typically incurs foreign transaction fees.
Ant Financial is an affiliate of Alibaba, which owns the South China Morning Post.