Alipay Pact Gives UATP Access to 800 Million Chinese Travelers (Nov. 7, 2013)
The U.S. travel industry has a new inroad into the world’s top-spending travel market, now that UATP—a travel payment network owned by a consortium of airlines—is working with Chinese cross-border payment provider Alipay. The pact enables American airlines, hotels and other travel businesses to connect to the more than 800 million Chinese account holders on the Alipay platform, with minimal change to their backend systems, according to the companies. Alipay users now can use the UATP Network to book plane tickets, hotels, rent cars and make other travel-related purchases online.
China’s rapidly growing middle and upper-class are a booming segment of the international travel market, making a total of 83 million outbound trips in 2012, according to the China Tourism Academy, a Beijing-based research institution. Those travelers spent US$102 billion, making China the top overall outbound tourism spender, ahead of both the U.S. and Germany, at US$84 billion each. And those numbers are only expected to grow, with US$118 billion in Chinese traveler spending and 94 million trips projected for 2013.
Launched in 2004 by retail payments operator Alibaba Group, Alipay is a cross-border payment solution that has more than 180 financial institution partners and supports transactions in 15 foreign currencies. Last month, the company revealed plans to expand its service to Taiwan. That news followed the September announcement that the company inked a deal with Singapore Airlines enabling Chinese travelers to use Alipay to purchase tickets on the airline’s Website.