As mobile payments increase in popularity and acceptance, Chinese outbound travelers will likely base more of their travel decisions on whether their preferred payment method is widely accepted in a destination. In fact, more than 90 percent of Chinese tourists said they’d use mobile payments if it was an option, according to a survey by Nielsen published in February. While the two biggest players in China, Alipay and WeChat Pay, continue to aggressively expand overseas, there are still many destinations and retailers that have yet to adopt Chinese payment options.

Norway has seen its neighbor Finland benefit from campaigns utilizing Chinese tech (Finland became the first cashless destination for Chinese travelers last year), and it has now partnered with Ant Financial’s Alipay to make travel more convenient.

Over 90 percent of Chinese travelers want to use mobile payments while abroad

Norwegian mobile payment platform Vipps announced on December 11 that it would begin accepting Alipay by integrating the payment option with its terminals in the country, in particular Vipps will start the integration with hotels, restaurants, and retailers in Bergen — home to the world’s largest gingerbread city — before expanding to the rest of the country. Vipps, which is owned by Norway’s largest bank DNB ASA, has a 76 percent penetration rate in Norway.

Combined with the coverage offered by Finland’s ePassi, the partnership with Vipps will connect Chinese mobile payment users to 129,000 businesses, according to Alipay. The deals will also allow ePassi and Vipps customers to use the apps at Alipay terminals. Additionally, Vipps plans to expand through Europe with Spain as the first destination in the first half of 2019. ePassi is already available in Sweden, Finland, Estonia and Spain.

The integration with the ePassi and Vipps networks means that Alipay customers will be able to use mobile payments beyond Finland and Norway

From 2007 to 2017, Chinese tourism to Norway soared 575 percent, according to national development bank Innovation Norway. The most visited destinations within the country have been the capital Oslo and Bergen. However, Chinese overnight stays declined over 15 percent year-on-year in June.

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Destinations, Travel Tech & Social Media