Payments giant Alipay is piloting a ‘Sydney City Card’ aimed at visiting Chinese tourists.
Despite the name the service does not involve a physical card, but rather an in-app map that offers geo-targeted promotions at tourist hotspots.
Alipay users will be given recommendations on what to see and where to shop in the city, with special offers served up when they are in areas including The Rocks, Darling Harbour, Sydney Fish Market, Sydney Airport, Westfield Sydney, and Chinatown in Haymarket.
Around a hundred retailers and tourist destinations are involved in the pilot – which has the backing of Tourism Australia – including BridgeClimb Sydney, the Sydney Aquarium, and Captain Cook Cruises.
“The Sydney City Card pilot is an innovative approach to engaging with our largest tourist market, and provides Australia with a critical advantage over other regional tourist hotspots during this peak annual travel period,” said Alipay country manager George Lawson.
“Providing this tailored and convenient customer experience is critical to maintaining and enhancing Australia’s reputation as a leading international tourist destination for Chinese travellers,” he added.
Chinese visitors account for 81 per cent of the growth in tourism spend in Australia over the last 12 months, according to Nielsen. Austrade figures show more than 1.4 million Chinese tourists travelled to Australia in the year ending November 2018 spending more than $11.5 billion.
A 2018 Nielsen study found 99 per cent of Chinese tourists had the Alipay app installed on their mobile phone.
Australian financial institutions have been adding Alipay compatability over the last year. In August, business-only bank Tyro said it would be the first Australian bank to offer all-in-one EFTPOS with integrated Alipay acceptance with its merchants. The first merchant implementation of Alipay was by Tyro customer, duty-free retailer Heinemann Australiain October.
In November NAB launched a pilot with a small group of its business merchant customers to support Alipay payments on point of sale terminals, ahead of a wider roll-out this year. Commonwealth Bank of Australia (CBA) added Alipay availability to its 94,000 Albert POS terminals in December.
“Today’s new generation of free and independent Chinese traveller has extremely high demands of an overseas destination, and a big part of meeting those expectations is undoubtedly around convenience and being made to feel welcome,” said Tourism Australia managing director John O’Sullivan.
“We know the huge importance that Chinese travellers attach to Alipay as a preferred and trusted mobile payment system, and I have every confidence that the added value they’ll receive from the new Sydney City Card will prove hugely popular, by making the on-the- ground holiday experience easier and more engaging,” he added.
The pilot, which will go on for 12 months and run concurrently with a similar initiative in Queenstown, New Zealand, has been launched in time for the Chinese New Year.