China’s rapidly growing outbound tourism market is a boon for overseas retailers, many of whom are now embracing the Chinese preference for mobile payments and finding that going digital also improves their marketing and inventory management.

These are among the key findings from a new survey conducted jointly by research firm Nielsen and Alipay, the online payment platform owned by Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba.

Based on responses from more than 4,800 Chinese travellers and nearly 550 overseas merchants, the survey revealed that Chinese consumers rate ten countries where they loved to use mobile payments in 2019 – Singapore, South Korea, Japan, Australia, France, Thailand, New Zealand, Canada, the UK and the US.

Whilst visiting these and other countries, Chinese tourists on average paid via mobile 3.4 times out of every ten transactions in 2019, up from 3.2 times in 2018, while the amount of foreign currency they exchanged before leaving for Europe fell by 16%.

And although European retailers have been relatively late adopters of the Chinese e-payment trend, the Nielsen/Alipay survey suggests that attitudes are changing fast.

For example, nearly four-fifths (78%) of merchants in the UK said they would be likely to recommend Alipay to their industry peers – an important consideration given that all (100%) of the Chinese travellers in the survey downloaded the Alipay app in 2019.

Also in the UK, where it is reported that 61% of local merchants have adopted Chinese mobile payment solutions since 2019, 88% of them found extra digital services on Chinese payment platforms helped with their marketing and almost two-thirds (63%) improved the efficiency of their in-store management.

More broadly, 92% of Chinese tourists who travelled to Europe said they were more likely to pay via mobile if more local retailers supported Chinese mobile payment solutions, while 89% said that they were more likely to shop and spend locally.

Finally, two-thirds (66%) of all the vendors who took part in the survey said they intend to enhance their digital store operations and make more use of Chinese mobile payment platforms to improve their promotional and marketing activities.

Sourced from Nielsen, Alipay; additional content by WARC staff