One of the world’s largest mobile payment apps is looking to expand into Wellington, making it easier for Chinese tourists looking to shop up a storm down under.
In China, 370 million people use the service, and businessmen from Hong Kong and New Zealand have been meeting in the capital to discuss how to get more Chinese tourists in the country, including Chinese online marketplace giant Alibaba. Alibaba wants to introduce Alipay, where shoppers use electronic codes instead of cash when buying goods and services.
Dr David Tripe is a professor of economics and finance at Massey University who says the app’s success in China is due in part to its ease of accessibility. “One of the reasons it’s been so successful in China has been because the failings of the banks to get their payment, to get their consumer payment technology up to the extent that consumers might like,” Mr Tripe says.
Alipay is already operating in Auckland Airport and in the South Island. Wellington mayor Justin Lester says Alipay could make the capital more appealing to the thousands of Chinese tourists going through Wellington every year. “We want to make sure we’re opening up our businesses to an international market,” he says.
However, some critics are worried about data protection issues.
University of Auckland law professor Dr Jane Kelsey says the cashless shopping app could cause legal issues for the capital.
“One of the things that concerns me most is that when we have operators who are based offshore and hold data offshore, conduct transactions offshore, if we have a fraud issue or if we have a consumer protection issue, whose laws are going to apply?” Ms Kelsey says.