Booking.com, Airbnb, Marriott, and every high-end retail shop on the Champs-Élysées want to see the proliferation of Alipay and other digital payment services to capture the spending of Chinese travelers. But Alipay's key cross-border payments strategy, despite a record-setting IPO, has run into major snags.
Online Travel This Week
Airbnb who? While analysts estimate that Airbnb could raise $3 billion in an initial public offering in the next few months, Jack Ma's Ant Group, which is affiliated with his Alibaba e-commerce giant, just raised $34 billion in Hong Kong and Shanghai in the largest IPO in history.
While it may not have drawn sufficient attention, the Ant Group IPO has a major travel angle in that its claim to fame is Alipay, the leading digital payments platform in China. Alipay is the market leader in its competition with number two, Tencent's WeChat Pay.
But the implications go way beyond China.
A key component of Alipay's expansion strategy is cross-border payments, meaning facilitating merchant payments for online travel sellers, hotels, airlines, or other stores high on shopping bucket lists when Chinese citizens travel abroad. In addition to payments, Alipay also offers services such as currency exchange, duty free, ride