E-wallet services bloom at airports

Updated: 2016-09-30 07:21


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E-wallet services bloom at airports

View of a logo of Alipay, the mobile payment service of Alibaba Group, in a hotel in Nantong city, EastChina's Jiangsu province, May 21, 2016. [Photo/IC]

International airports have become the new battlefield for the country's top internet companies as they gear up for over-seas expansion by providing Chinese outbound travelers with more e-wallet services.

The timing is ideal, as millions of tourists pack their bags right before the National Day holiday, from Oct 1 to 7.

China's online search giant Baidu Inc announced on Thursday a partnership with Israeli startup Travelers Box to provide a convenient way for Chinese travelers to exchange their unused foreign money before returning home.

Through the service, travelers can choose to credit their Baidu Wallet accounts by depositing money at Travelers-Box kiosks at airports in some of the most popular countries for Chinese tourists, including Japan, Italy and Canada.

The service, which charges 7 percent of the total deposit as a service and exchange fee, is available at five international airports, with six more by year's end.

Whitney Yan, a Baidu spokeswoman, said the service will save people the trouble of taking their spare foreign money home, then having to exchange it into yuan.

"Sometimes, you don't want to waste your spare money buying goods you don't really want. If you don't have time to go to a bank, the money is likely to sit in your drawer," she said. Li Chao, an analyst with iResearch Consulting Group, said that the rising number of Chinese outbound travelers and their increasing spending overseas are only part of the reason companies are looking to airports for business.

"Fierce competition has dragged down the profits of digital payment services in China. Looking abroad is in line with their internationalization strategy and the goal to be more profitable. And the best way to start is with Chinese outbound travelers," he said.

Alipay, China's largest online payment service, struck a deal on Tuesday with 10 overseas airports to introduce its payment services starting in October. Included are airports in Germany, Japan, the Republic of Korea, New Zealand and Thailand. The company said it will include more services at airports in the future.