French sportswear brand Lacoste is accepting Alipay in select U.S. stores as a way of appealing to the growing number of Chinese tourists who visit the U.S. to sightsee, eat and shop. Verifone and Alipay expanded their global partnership to provide mobile payments at the brand’s boutiques, per a statement.
Verifone facilitates Alipay’s QR code payments on the Verifone e355 mobile point-of-sale (mPOS) solution, which accepts alternative payments like Alipay and other digital payment methods. Verifone’s mobile pay solution lets retail personnel help and check out customers from anywhere in a store.
Lacoste recognizes that China’s growing middle class has greater spending power to travel overseas and shop for brands that are hard to find at home. By accepting Alipay, the brand can appeal to Chinese customers who are more comfortable than U.S. shoppers with using mobile payments. Chinese tourist spending in the U.S. grew 9% to $33.1 billion in 2016 from the prior year, according to the most recent data from the Department of Commerce, making the group a desirable target audience in urban shopping districts.
While the Trump administration’s contested travel ban on visitors from seven Muslim-majority countries has had a chilling effect on tourism to the U.S., the trends for Chinese visitors remain strong. In fact, Chinese travelers were the only group that claimed the political climate in the U.S. under Trump made them more likely to visit than before, according to a study by tourism marketing firm Brand USA. Chinese tourism is a major bright spot for the U.S., which saw a 2% decline in overall visits in 2016.
Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial, an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group, has sought to increase its presence in the U.S., most notably by trying to buy MoneyGram International. The companies this month called off the deal after the Committee on Foreign Investment in U.S. refused to approve the transaction, per The Wall Street Journal. The broken deal was the latest sign that the U.S. is increasing scrutiny of Chinese investment at a time of greater tensions between the two countries.
Meanwhile, Ant Financial this week got into trouble in China for automatically enrolling customers in its credit-scoring system without their permission. The system gave Ant rights to their personal financial data, including information on income, savings and spending habits. The Cyberspace Administration of China ordered Ant to fix the system and ensure similar incidents don’t happen again.