Ali­pay launches shop­ping fes­ti­val in Santa’s vil­lage

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By CECILY LIU in Ro­vaniemi, Fin­land cecily.liu@mail.chi­nadai­lyuk.com

China’s high-spend­ing tourists are reach­ing some of the most re­mote parts of Europe — ev­i­denced by the fact that the Chi­nese pay­ment plat­form Ali­pay gained ac­cep­tance at more than 100 shops, restau­rants and ho­tels in the north­ern Fin­nish city of Ro­vaniemi within a month.

Ro­vaniemi, cap­i­tal of the north­ern Fin­nish prov­ince of La­p­land and fa­mous for its Santa Claus vil­lage, a tourist at­trac­tion, is also the lo­ca­tion Ali­pay chose to launch its 12.12 shop­ping fes­ti­val, which gives dis­counts to Chi­nese shop­pers be­tween Dec 9 and 12 across 70,000 mer­chants in 16 coun­tries glob­ally.

The launch cer­e­mony, held in Santa Claus vil­lage on Tues­day, was at­tended by Ro­vaniemi Mayor Esko Lotvo­nen, some of Ali­pay’s lo­cal mer­chants part­ners and some Chi­nese tourists.

Lotvo­nen said the Ali­pay’s choice to launch the fes­ti­val there was a sign of the friend­ship be­tween China and Fin­land, and he hopes to wel­come more Chi­nese tourists.

Ali­pay is the pay­ment arm of Ant Fi­nan­cial Ser­vices Group, it­self an af­fil­i­ate firm of in­ter­net gi­ant Alibaba Group Hold­ing Ltd. With 450 mil­lion users in China, Ali­pay is now fast ex­pand­ing in­ter­na­tion­ally, of­fer­ing tourists with easy and se­cure pay­ment sup­port.

Now in its third year, 12.12 is a shop­ping fes­ti­val that Ali­pay has used to en­cour­age more pur­chases, sim­i­lar to the 11.11 Singles Day shop­ping fes­ti­val.

Whereas 11.11 fo­cuses on on­line shop­ping, 12.12 of­fers are only avail­able when mak­ing pur­chases off­line — in stores, restau­rants and ho­tels.

In Fin­land, Ali­pay co­op­er­ates with mo­bile pay­ment provider ePassi, which al­ready works with about 10,000 mer­chants in Fin­land. When Chi­nese shop­pers pay with Ali­pay, Fin­nish mer­chants will re­ceive money into their ePassi wal­lets within sec­onds.

“Tra­di­tion­ally, Chi­nese trav­el­ers to Fin­land en­counter two chal­lenges: tourist in­for­ma­tion is not ex­ten­sively avail­able in Chi­nese and they of­ten need to carry lots of cash on their trav­els, Ali­pay’s en­try into Fin­land solves both chal­lenges,” said Alexan­der Yin, chief fi­nan­cial officer of TCG, the par­ent com­pany of ePassi.

Ali­pay of­fers pay­ment con­ve­nience, and its app also pro­vides prac­ti­cal in­for­ma­tion about its part­ner mer­chants in Fin­land, help­ing these mer­chants to more ef­fec­tively at­tract Chi­nese tourists.

Ali­pay is be­ing em­braced by Fin­nish mer­chants.

“We are so glad to add Ali­pay as a new pay­ment method, af­ter hav­ing this re­quest from Chi­nese shop­pers for so long,” said Tanja Keisu-Maki­nen, Helsinki Airport store man­ager of Fin­nish watch­maker Lin­droos.

“We’ve al­ready had some Ali­pay trans­ac­tions in our store, even though we’ve just launched it for a week,” added Tina Joki­nen, Helsinki Airport store man­ager of the lo­cal glass­works man­u­fac­turer Lit­tala.

Ali­pay was used by 120 mil­lion users over­seas last year. It also co­op­er­ates with Ger­many’s Wire­card and France’s In­genico, in a sim­i­lar way to its links with ePassi in Fin­land.

“Ali­pay gives me so much con­ve­nience and is very easy to use,” said Cao Bin­jie, 27, a tourist from Guangzhou who used Ali­pay to buy a deer-skin mat, mag­nets and post­cards from the Santa Claus vil­lage sou­venir shop.

CECILY LIU / CHINA DAILY

Mer­chants and Chi­nese tourists at­tend the open­ing cer­e­mony of the 12.12 shop­ping fes­ti­val at Santa Claus vil­lage in Ro­vaniemi, Fin­land, on Tues­day.

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