It is hard to imagine that mobile payment was the first to open up in cold and distant northern Europe.
“In Sweden, 90% of trades are now free of cash and we find it a safe and effective solution for both customers and merchants, but visitors may find some stores here and do not accept cash at all. Alipay signed a contract to find solutions for these tourists and make it easier for Chinese tourists to shop in Sweden. “Mats Hedenström, director of policy at the Swedish Trade Federation, told 21st Century Business Herald.
September 20, Alipay and the Swedish Trade Federation signed a memorandum of cooperation to further expand Alipay in Sweden. Meanwhile, Nets, the largest provider of digital payment solutions in Northern Europe, has Alipay access to Denmark and beyond. At present, Alipay has supported “sweeping codes” in 33 countries and regions in the world.
Finnish mobile payments step faster. At present, Finland has thousands of merchants access Alipay, business information can also search outbound travel service platform. Among these are the well-known Helsinki brands Marimekko, Iittala and Marja Kurki, as well as Stockmann, the largest single department store in the Nordics.
For Nordic businesses, on the one hand, mobile payments can solve the locals’ demand for cash and credit cards on the one hand, and attract Chinese tourists on the other. Stenstromn, State Secretary of Sweden’s EU and Trade Ministry, told reporters frankly that Chinese tourists have risen sharply every year and that Sweden needs to provide more convenient services in order to maintain Sweden’s attractiveness. Alipay is a necessary tool for China’s cashless life and they are also willing to be part of it.
However, the real concept of non-cash into the Nordic life, but also face financial access, regulatory, technical and cultural differences, such as thresholds and challenges.
“Code” into the Arctic Circle
Truly Alipay into the Finnish market is ePassi.
Yin Wei, born in 1984, graduated from Ph.D., Department of Microelectronics, Turku University, Finland, within four years as chief financial officer from ePassi’s intern. Today, ePassi has grown into Finland’s largest e-wallet company with 700,000 users, covering one-third of Finland’s workforce.
Yin Wei told reporters that Finland’s average tax rate at 30%, assuming that the Finnish employer to employees paid 1000 euros benefits may be tax paid 300 euros, the employee personal use of these 1,000 euros benefits, but also pay 300 euro. But using ePassi is tax-free on both sides. This actually shows that the government guides consumption. It encourages citizens to go to fitness more by using duty-free and uses public transport to reduce diseases and pollution and ultimately ease public pressure on the government.
On the other hand, the high efficiency advocated by Alipay and China’s Internet may not be to some extent a Finnish rhythm. The reporter saw in Helsinki that even in the afternoon on working days, many young people could still see or run in Sibelius Park or bask in the lawn on the lake.
The partnership between ePassi and Alipay goes back to March 2016. In a financial technology industry exhibition held in Berlin, Germany, Yin Wei accidentally met Alipay relevant personnel in Europe. Yin Wei, who has been living in Europe for many years, had a new understanding of the domestic Internet.
He told reporters that Finland’s population is only 5.5 million, bank coverage is very high. Persuade businesses to use Alipay, there must be enough convincing reasons. “I will tell them that Alipay is not only a payment instrument, but a tool that markets, manages users and brings new incremental consumption, and is a suite of services.”
“In fact, compared with other traditional European powers, Finland is very humble about the mentality of foreign things,” Yin Wei explained. At that time, the Flying Plane, Ali’s travel platform, had partnered with the Finnish Tourist Board to promote Northern Lights tourism and northern Finnish destinations. As an important part of the service plan, Alipay completed system docking with ePassi in two months.
For Yin Wei, there is difficulty in persuading Nordics to accept the code, but he will not give up. What made him feel even more is that the opening up and development of Chinese enterprises have also made his career reach a more distant sky.
Payment war spread
With the exception of Finland, Sweden and Greece are countries that react more quickly. At present, five watch shops in Sweden are already piloting Alipay and are accessed by local partners Cimple. At the same time, Starbucks Airport also offers instant tax rebates to tourists’ Alipay accounts.
Its intention to serve Chinese tourists is significant. The old city behind the Sigemalmo palace is a must-see for foreign visitors. Stroll through the medieval alleyways, at the foot of the cobbled streets and classical buildings, full of souvenirs and artisanal shops. Many merchants cashier, placed Alipay mobile payment reminder card.
In Sweden, the cashless settlement that many years have been promoted by the government is not a credit card. Instead, each person has an electronic account, which corresponds to an ID. A Swedes shopping, as long as the salesperson’s electronic account ID, you can transfer the way, the money transferred to each other’s account. In Sweden, 90% of the payments do not require cash, but persuading them to pay by barcode still requires a lot of hurdles.
In an interview with 21st Century Business Herald, Alipay Europe chief Liu Yu said that the cooperation between Alipay and Swedish institutions is still in its infancy and the future will expand to include richer shopping scenarios such as shopping malls, attractions and restaurants in Sweden. “The only performance measure we have seen in Europe’s business expansion is where Chinese tourists go and where we are going.”
For Alipay, it is the main way to expand the new markets of Europe, the United States and Australia with the cooperation with the acquiring bank that holds the payment license and is capable of providing technical and terminal hardware support. In Southeast Asia, South Korea and other countries, the adoption is a local payment platform model, its service is no longer just for Chinese tourists, but the global demand for mobile payment users.
As a pioneer of Alipay is the world to open up the boundaries, WeChat payment not to be outdone, also move. When a reporter interviewed at the airport in Helsinki, a staff member disclosed that they will pay for the merchant to access the WeChat code scanning tomorrow.
Liu Yu already accustomed to such a situation. “It is not Alipay’s core competitive power behind the code scanning technology, payment security, smooth experience, as well as to provide partners with ecological services based on big data, not only to pay for this one link.” She is still full of confidence.
More and more Chinese are going abroad to see the world. According to the statistics of the World Tourism Organization, in 2015, the total number of outbound travels in China reached 120 million and the overseas consumption reached 1.5 trillion yuan. In 2016, Chinese people’s international tourism expenditures increased by 11 billion U.S. dollars to 261 billion U.S. dollars, an increase of 12%. This is for Alipay and WeChat, are great opportunities.
In the vision of Doulas Feagin, senior vice president of gold ant clothes, expanding offline payments around Chinese tourists is the number one priority. He hopes that e-wallets in different countries can be shared among merchants in different countries and consumers are using offline payment codes using their most familiar app.
However, achieving this vision is not an easy task. Behind this is a tremendous test of payment technology, settlement standards, business education, financial access, cultural differences and exchange rate fluctuations. In particular, regulators control and restrict overseas mobile payments.
However, this does not prevent Yin Wei from achieving his own small goal. By the summer of 2017, he has already signed 1,000 businesses. His next goal is that ePassi can make universal payments in Finland. Maybe he will eat the door, but he firmly believes that the Chinese way of life will one day also affect the world.