Citcon USA LLC said Tulip Retail Inc., a provider of mobile apps used by store clerks at major retail chains, will deploy Citcon’s mobile-payments technology to enable acceptance of Alipay, WeChat Pay, and UnionPay QR. A 5-year-old startup company, Citcon specializes in enabling U.S. merchants to accept China-based mobile-payments apps. All three mobile-payments services have been working to increase acceptance by North American merchants where visitors from China tend to shop.
Toronto-based Tulip has deployed its mobile technology, which is built on Apple Inc.’s iOS platform, with major luxury-retail brands including Coach, De Beers, Michael Kors, and Swarovski. Citcon has struck agreements in recent years with a number of North American businesses, a thrust that earlier this month yielded an agreement for acceptance by major airlines through UATP, a payments processor specializing in the segment.
The deal with Tulip comes as stores contend with stay-at-home orders in most states meant to combat the spread of the novel coronavirus. Tulip’s technology, used by store associates for a variety of retail functions in addition to payment acceptance, includes a module that enables employees to perform in-aisle checkouts for quicker service. It also can be used to reach customers remotely, and the company is working to enable a curbside pickup function, according to its Web site.
Now, with millions of Chinese tourists visiting the United States annually and looking to use their local payment methods, Tulip sees an opportunity to expand its offerings through Citcon’s point-of-sale technology. “Together, we will be able to offer a frictionless customer-centric commerce solution for shoppers in and out of the store,” said Pouneh Hanafi, vice president of marketing and partnerships at Tulip, in a statement.
All three China-based payments methods rely on using a smart phone to scan a quick-response code displayed by the merchant. Popular in Asia and other overseas markets, QR codes are relatively inexpensive for merchants and have shown signs recently of gaining ground with U.S. payments processors. The latest example is that of PayPal Holdings Inc., which this week launched a QR-code program in the United States and 27 other countries.
Santa Clara, Calif.-based Citcon says it is now enabling payments at 6,000 merchants in North America and Europe for China-based wallets. In 2016, the last year for which numbers are available, some 3 million Chinese tourists visited the United States.
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