(Yicai Global) Oct. 9 -- The number of foreign airports and duty-free and retail stores accepting Alipay and WeChat Pay has increased substantially compared with last year, several Chinese consumers who traveled abroad during the National Day Holiday, which ran from Oct. to Oct. 8, told Yicai Global.
E-commerce stairway Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.'s [NYSE:BABA] Alipay and tech giant Tencent Holdings Ltd.'s [HKG:0700] WeChat Pay also offered up discounts for purchases made by overseas users, the travelers said.
All of the duty-free shop counters at New Chitose Airport in Sapporo, Japan, had signs written in Chinese reading "WeChat Pay accepted," while consumers were granted special National Day discounts.
"I used Alipay at Osaka and Lawson convenience stores earlier this year, but they didn't accept WeChat back then," one tourist said. "I was surprised to see you can use WeChat in Hokkaido now."
One tourist told Yicai Global that he significantly cut back on the amount of Japanese yen he usually purchases while traveling abroad this National Day holiday, as he can now use WeChat and Alipay and make transactions through Chinese international card provider UnionPay.
However, not all staff members at the stores were clued up on how to use the technology. Some had to seek assistance from colleagues, our reporter found. The cashier explains that as WeChat Pay transactions are new to the store, not all staff are familiar with how they work yet.
A sharp rise in the number of Alipay and WeChat Pay users has also prompted local retails to expand their range of accept payments. A Japanese souvenir store owner recently posted on 2channel, a well-known online community in the country, seeking advice on how to accept payments through Alipay. He'd welcomed many customers during the National Day holiday but found many were disappointed to found out that Alipay wasn't a payment option at the store.
Alipay is now available in 33 countries and regions worldwide, including the US, Japan, South Korea, Hong Kong, Macau, Taiwan and countries in Europe and Southeast Asia. The service can be used to pay for most consumer products and services at restaurants, supermarkets, shopping malls, convenience stores, theme parks, airports and even for tax rebates.
WeChat is available in more than 13 countries and regions covering more than 130,000 foreign sellers. It accepts payments in more than 12 foreign currencies.
China's other two leading tech firms, Baidu Inc. [NASDAQ:BIDU] and JD.com Inc. [NASDAQ:JD] are also making waves with their online payment services. Baidu Wallet is available in Thailand and poised to enter Japan, South Korea and other foreign markets in the Asia Pacific region, while JD Finance has set up a joint venture with Thailand's Central Group Co. to break into the local payment service market.