Ant Financial’s Mobile Wallet Now Accepted by Airlines Reporting

Jul 11, 2018 | News

As Chinese outbound tourism is growing rapidly, the country’s dominant payment platform, Alipay. is increasingly targeting global markets.

Airlines Reporting Corp. (ARC), which handles ticket transactions between airlines and travel agencies, today announced that its customers can now buy airline tickets using Alipay, the Chinese mobile wallet operated by Ant Financial Services Group.

With more than 500 million users, Alipay dominates mobile payments in China. As Chinese outbound tourism is growing rapidly, Alipay is increasingly targeting global markets.

“Alipay is widely recognized as one of the largest payment platforms in the world, and as people from China travel to the U.S. they want to use their preferred payment method,” the managing director of airline services at ARC, Chuck Fischer, said in a statement today.

ARC, based in Arlington, is controlled by nine major airlines, including Delta Air Lines Inc. (NYSE: DAL), American Airlines Group Inc. (NASDAQ: AAL), and United Airlines. Last year, ARC settled $88.5 billion worth of transactions for 7,000 travel agencies.

ARC noted that its partnership with Ant Financial was facilitated by the airline payment network, Universal Air Travel Plan (UATP).

“Customer demand for Alipay, and other payment options continues to grow and we want to fulfill that demand,” Tom Cunningham, the vice president of Business Development at UATP, said today.

UATP first partnered with the Chinese payment platform in November 2013. Alipay is listed as a payment processing partner on UATP’s website, along with other payment services such as PayPal Holdings Inc. (Nasdaq: PYPL) and Affirm Inc., a startup from PayPal co-founder Max Levchin.

Alipay is becoming increasingly accepted outside China.

Just last month, Marriott International Inc. (Nasdaq: MAR), one of the world’s largest hotel chains, began using the platform in 1,500 of its hotels, two-thirds of which are located outside Asia.

Earlier this month, 99 Ranch Market, an Asian grocery chain, announced that it would accept Alipay at US locations.

According to Fung Global Retail & Technology, Alipay is accepted at more than 170,000 locations in North America.

Alipay used to be the main business of Ant Financial, an affiliate of the Chinese e-commerce behemoth, Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE: BABA), until the company extended its services into other FinTech businesses.

Over the past year, Alibaba has sought to expand Alipay’s presence in North America. The conglomerate has attempted to acquire Moneygram International Inc. (Nasdaq: MGI), a U.S. money transfer firm, but the deal was rejected by the Committee on Foreign Investment in the United States (CFIUS).

Alibaba’s stock closed on Wall Street today at $187.42 per American depositary share, down nearly 3 percent.

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