BEIJING/LONDON: China’s mobile payments ecosystem is crucial to the country’s new economy, but as the number of Chinese tourists increases, new research shows that 93% would use mobile payment overseas given the option.

This is according to Nielsen’s Outbound Chinese Tourism and Consumption Trend: 2017 Survey of 2009 Chinese tourists, in association with Alipay, which tracked the role of mobile payments in travel.

“China has embraced mobile payments faster than any country, and will continue to lead the global charge in this regard. Mobile payment is on the rise globally, and will continue to support greater connectivity and efficiency across the commercial ecosystem,” said Vishal Bali, Managing Director of Nielsen China.

Tourism from China is on the rise. According to China’s National Tourism Administration, travel occasions increased 7% year on year in 2017, to a total of 131 million.

Not only is the number of tourists increasing, but Nielsen found that they already tend to spend more. Chinese tourists spent an average of US$762 per person towards shopping on their most recent overseas trip, while non-Chinese tourists averaged US$486. Indeed, shopping is the greatest source of spend (25%) for Chinese tourists, ahead on accommodation (19%).

Tourists’ attitudes to mobile payments centre around convenience and safety. Already, 65% of outbound tourists used mobile payment overseas, with younger generations driving this trend. For those born during and after the 1990’s, a third (33%) of payments were via mobile; for the generation born after the 1970s, the proportion is also significant at 27%.

“If UK merchants are to embrace the opportunities that come with increased tourism from China, it’s crucial that they get into the mindset of Chinese travellers”, Li Want, head of Alipay EMEA, Ant Financial told the Drum.

“When travelling, Chinese nationals expect the ease and simplicity of seamless, instant mobile payments, which they have access to at home; consequently UK merchants that embrace mobile payments will have more appeal to Chinese customers.”

Sourced from Neilsen, The Drum; additional content by WARC staff