Ant Financial’s march towards global payments domination is continuing. Its’ Alipay payment app is coming to Canada and New Zealand.
Shopping-center operator Oxford Properties Group is planning to enable both Alipay and its’ competitor Tencent Holdings’ (OTC: TCHEY) WeChat at 11 Canadian malls, the Real Estate News Exchange reported. Among other things, that will enable Chinese students and tourists to make purchases in Yuan or renminbi at Canadian stores.
That is good news for retailers and local and provincial governments eager to grow the property tax base, although it will certainly raise questions about national sovereignty. Canadians are a little more open to foreign currencies than most nations because of all the US dollars floating around in their country.
Alipay Invading Canada
Beyond enabling Chinese business the Oxford deal gives Ant; and Tencent, a beachhead to enter the Canadian market. Once ensconced at the centers the two companies will start marketing their payment options to Canadians.
The next logical move will be to expand Alipay to major Canadian retailers such as Loblaw’s, Walmart (NYSE: WMT), Canadian Tire, Costco (NASDAQ: COST), and Dollar Tree (NASDAQ: DLTR). Since Walmart is already offering its own Quick Read (QR) code payment option Walmart Pay at its stores, it would be a natural fit for Alipay.
Alipay uses QR Code to communicate with registers rather than Near Field Communication (NFC). QR code apps like Alipay, TEZ, Walmart Pay, and Chase Pay use a smartphone camera to scan a code to start a transaction in a payment system. NFC offerings; like Android Pay and Apple Pay, make a direct wireless connection to a register that enables a payment transaction in a retailer’s system.
Walmart has refused to accept NFC payments possibly because of security concerns. The retail giant might be afraid those solutions would create a hole hackers can use to penetrate its financial systems.
Oxford Properties did not announce which stores in its centers will take Alipay and WeChat. Nor did the company reveal any plans to accept Alipay and WeChat at its shopping centers in New York, Washington D.C., London, and Boston. Oxford Properties is the real estate investment company owned by OMERS a pension plan for municipal employees in Ontario.
Alipay in New Zealand
Canada is not the only part of the former British Empire where Alipay is expanding. Ant Financial’s mobile wallet will be rolled out in Wellington, New Zealand, Radio NZ reported.
Maggie Zhou, Alibaba’s managing director for Australia and New Zealand did not reveal any further expansion plans for Alipay. Although it is safe to assume that Ant Financial has designs on the much larger Australian market as well. Alipay started as a payment option for Alibaba (NYSE: BABA)’s e-commerce business but was spun out into an independent company similar to PayPal Holdings (NASDAQ: PYPL).
The next step for Ant in the United States, Canada, Australia, and the UK will be to move into other areas of financial services. Likely businesses for Ant Financial to enter will be prepaid credit and debit cards, microlending, wire transfer, money orders, investments, cryptocurrency, and possibly banking. The first step in that will be for Ant Financial to start establishing relationships with banks and credit unions similar to the ones built by Android Pay and Apple Pay.