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Alipay to move into Europe

Chinese payment service Alipay will launch in Europe this year, allowing Chinese tourists to pay for goods and services using its app, CNBC has reported.11 Apr 2016

Retailers will scan a barcode that Alipay customers display on their mobile device to take payment, Sabrina Peng, president of Alipay International said, according to CNBC.

The app will use location data to recognise where users are and make suggestions on restaurants and shops in the area, as well as displaying user reviews of those establishments, Peng said. Retailers will gain access to data on the shopping habits of Alipay customers if they partner with the company, CNBC reported.

Alipay is run by Ant Financial, an affiliate of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba. Its main competition in China is Tencent's WeChat Payment.

"The vision is targeting two billion people within next five to ten years, not only in China but other countries too," Peng told CNBC.

Hong Kong-based Paul Haswell of Pinsent Masons, the law firm behind Out-Law.com said: "Alipay is well-established in China and is used not only as a payment platform but by some citizens as a de facto bank, in that in very broad terms it functions like Paypal and allows users to maintain a balance within an Alipay account."

"Alipay will see Europe as a key platform for the many Chinese visitors to Europe, who may prefer to use Alipay rather than rely on UnionPay or simply carrying cash, but they will also be looking closely at whether Alipay can gain traction in the competitive European payments market. Whether the service can be successful outside of its Chinese user base remains to be seen," he said.

"Merchants using the Alipay service, particularly with its proposed use of barcodes to authenticate payments, will need to ensure there is adequate verification and security in place," Haswell said.