Alibaba unit to start credit-based visa ap­pli­ca­tion ser­vices for Lux­em­bourg

China Daily (Canada) - - FRONT PAGE - By CHI­NADAILY

Any­one plan­ning to ap­ply for a Schen­gen visa through Sesame Credit Man­age­ment, a con­sumer credit agency backed by Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd, may have to wait for another two months.

OnWed­nes­day, an em­ployee, sur­named Chen, from the Con­sulate Gen­eral of the Grand Duchy of Lux­em­bourg in Shang­hai, told China Daily that the credit-based visa ap­pli­ca­tion process for Chi­nese tourists is yet to start.

“Sesame Credit is still work­ing on the nec­es­sary in­fra­struc­ture for the online ap­pli­ca­tion plat­form and we ex­pect to roll out the ser­vice by the end of Au­gust or in early Septem­ber,” Chen said.

The credit-based visa ap­pli­ca­tion ser­vice is an ini­tia­tive jointly launched by Sesame Credit, a busi­ness unit un­der Ant Fi­nan­cial, owner of the na­tion’s largest mo­bile pay­ment plat­form Ali­pay, and the con­sulate of Lux­em­bourg in Shang­hai.

It al­lows Chi­nese with a cer­tain credit score to ap­ply for Lux­em­bourg visas through Al­itrip, the online travel book­ing plat­form un­der Alibaba. The con­sulate will ac­cept a Sesame Credit re­port as proof of fi­nan­cial ca­pa­bil­ity, with­out re­quir­ing em­ploy­ment cer­tifi­cates, house­hold reg­is­tra­tion cer­tifi­cates and other doc­u­ments.

Ear­lier, Sesame Credit said the ser­vice would be op­er­a­tional by the end of June. The de­lay in the roll out means a large num­ber of Chi­nese par­ents who wanted to take their chil­dren to Europe for sum­mer vo­ca­tions can­not uti­lize the new visa chan­nel for the time be­ing.

In 2014, the num­ber of out­bound trav­el­ers fromChina crossed the 100 mil­lion mark for the first time, and the to­tal is ex­pected to reach 135 mil­lion this year, rep­re­sent­ing a 16.8 per­cent year-on-year growth, ac­cord­ing to data from the China Tourism Academy.

The tie-up with the con­sulate is a ma­jor push by Sesame Credit to give el­i­gi­ble Chi­nese res­i­dents in­creased con­ve­niences to travel abroad by low­er­ing the bar­ri­ers for travel visas.

Visa of­fi­cials said when the ser­vice is of­fi­cially launched, all Chi­nese trav­el­ers who want to use the new chan­nel to ex­pe­dite their visa ap­pli­ca­tion process will have to ap­ply through the con­sulate in Shang­hai, be­cause Sesame Credit has not inked a deal with the Lux­em­bourg Em­bassy in Bei­jing.

Ma Tengfei, a sales man­ager at Dalian Travel Agency in Shen­zhen, said us­ing the scor­ing sys­tem pro­vided by credit agen­cies will greatly re­duce the has­sles and time needed to pre­pare doc­u­ments and will prompt more Chi­nese to travel to Europe.

Utiliz­ing data from online shop­ping records and online fi­nan­cial be­hav­ior, Sesame Credit mea­sures users’ credit from five as­pects — credit history, be­hav­ioral habits, abil­ity to pay off debts, per­sonal in­for­ma­tion and so­cial net­works. Each user can get a credit rat­ing of be­tween 350 and 950.

The newser­vice is part of Sesame Credit’s broad ef­forts to ex­pand the com­mer­cial ap­pli­ca­tion of credit in China. In­May, the com­pany inked a deal with baihe.com, a dat­ing web­site in China, to add Sesame Credit to its users’ re­sumes in the hope of help­ing peo­ple find true love online.

Sesame Credit has also part­nered with lead­ing ho­tels and car-rent­ing com­pa­nies to pro­vide bet­ter ser­vices to its users, en­abling con­sumers with a cer­tain level of credit score to check into ho­tels and rent cars with­out pay­ing a guar­an­tee de­posit.

Ma Si con­trib­uted to this story.

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