Alibaba Group's mobile payments arm, Ant Financial, has inked a landmark deal with Bank of New Zealand, which has become the first financial institution in Australia or New Zealand to offer Alipay payment facilities to its merchant partners.
Since December 2016, when BNZ became the first NZ bank to introduce mobile payments to the market via Android Pay, digital wallets have become an increasingly integral part of the bank’s growth strategy.
In the 2015 financial year, 34 per cent of BNZ retail sales were made digitally, growing to 45 per cent in FY2017 as NZ consumers began to embrace digital wallets.
BNZ added Apple Pay to its customer offering in October last year, however, the Alipay deal is the first initiative specifically designed to target Chinese tourists.
From July, merchants and retailers across NZ with BNZ’s Verifone payment terminals will be able to process Alipay payments on the spot, using the QR code technology that has become ubiquitous with shopping in China.
BNZ said it expected to expand the offering to other terminal options over time.
Alipay Australia and NZ country manager George Lawson said 12 months ago Alipay was offered at just 300 merchants throughout New Zealand, with that number growing to several thousand today.
“This growth will be turbo-charged with BNZ being the first financial institution to partner with Alipay in New Zealand,” Mr Lawson said.
“This gives BNZ a significant advantage with businesses looking to work with Chinese customers.
“When it comes to tourism, New Zealand is the envy of the world with its clean and green image, natural beauty and world-renowned brands.
“However, this shouldn’t be taken for granted, and using Alipay to improve the point-of-sale experience and market more effectively in a foreign language can be a major boost to local businesses and ultimately, the New Zealand economy.”
Around 430,000 Chinese tourists visited New Zealand last year, according to Tourism New Zealand data, spending more than $NZ1.5 billion ($1.39 billion).
BNZ Partners chief customer officer Shelly Ruha said the agreement would provide greater flexibility and convenience to those travellers.
“Managing foreign currency in a country whose language you may not be fluent in can be one of the least enjoyable aspects of travelling,” Ms Ruha said.
“We’re delighted that we can help remove that hassle for Chinese visitors and make their Kiwi experience as easy and seamless as possible, by providing them with a range of options to make transactions, including those they choose to use at home.”