Chinese visitors can spend here via phone

Jinshan Hotel manager Amelia Wahjoto with SwiftPay's terminal that accepts four types of platforms - WeChat Pay, Alipay and Baidu, and UnionPay cards.
Jinshan Hotel manager Amelia Wahjoto with SwiftPay's terminal that accepts four types of platforms - WeChat Pay, Alipay and Baidu, and UnionPay cards.ST PHOTO: MARK CHEONG

More S'pore businesses, like RWS and Grab, accepting payments via Alipay accounts

More businesses in Singapore are allowing their mainland Chinese customers to pay for goods and services via their mobile phones, in the hope that this familiar and convenient method of payment will encourage them to spend.

Ride-hailing app Grab said last week that Chinese visitors can pay for taxi and private-hire car rides booked via Grab using Alipay accounts, under a partnership with the Chinese online payment provider.

At Resorts World Sentosa (RWS), Alipay payment terminals are available at more than 110 locations. More services will become progressively Alipay-enabled across the resort's hotel, dining, retail and entertainment arms, RWS said.

It added: "With large numbers of tourists from China visiting RWS every year, it is important... to reinvent visitor experiences."

While mobile payment has yet to catch on in Singapore, it has grown dramatically in China, where consumers use their phones to pay for anything from restaurant meals and cinema tickets to taxi fares.

Mobile payment penetration in China went from zero in 2011 to 25 per cent of the population last year, according to consultancy McKinsey & Co. An estimated US$1 trillion (S$1.35 trillion) worth of mobile transactions were done in China last year, dominated by Internet giants Alibaba and Tencent.

Firms here are hoping to ride on the China mobile payment boom.

Four-month-old local firm SwiftPay and its parent company E-Richpay Technology International invested $2.5 million in a payment terminal that accepts four types of platforms - WeChat Pay, Alipay and Baidu, and UnionPay cards.

SwiftPay has rented out the terminals to 22 businesses here, including tour agencies, restaurants and hotels. It charges merchants a fee of 1.88 per cent per transaction. There are no rental or set-up fees.

During payment, the terminal generates a receipt bearing a QR code. To pay via WeChat Pay, Alipay or Baidu, customers open the relevant phone app, scan the code and key in the passcode to their account - a process that takes roughly 30 seconds.

"The Government has been talking about the country being an IT hub and moving into future technologies. So e-payment is something we thought we should bring into Singapore," said SwiftPay director Ian Teo, 32, who founded the firm with his friend Edison Huang, also 32.

Jinshan Hotel in Chinatown, where 10 to 15 per cent of guests are from China, started renting the terminal a month ago. Said hotel manager Amelia Wahjoto, 32: "It's better to offer more payment options."

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 27, 2016, with the headline 'Chinese visitors can spend here via phone'. Print Edition | Subscribe