Kota Kinabalu, Sabah, Malaysia. Alipay signage photographed in Kota Kinabalu, Sabah.Alipay is a third-party mobile and online payment platform, established in Hangzhou, China in February 2004. Image: Shutterstock 

China-based online payment platform Alipay has entered Brunei’s financial technology market, with more than 50 establishments now participating into its line-up of merchants.

The facility which is considered new to Brunei is expected to help local businesses to further capitalise on the growing Chinese presence in the country which had also been strongly driven by tourism exchanges, besides mega projects.

A demonstration of both the merchant side, and the customer side of the newly launched Alipay at Mulia Hotel on 26/08/19. Image: Ridhwan Kamarulzaman

Apart from Mulia Hotel, other premises offering Alipay facilities include several branches of Hua Ho Department Store, SKH Supermarket and Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf. After Mulia Hotel, more establishments are expected to follow suit in the next few months.

Alipay is an e-wallet service that allows people from China to also make hotel reservations and hospital appointments, besides paying for goods and services online. Including QR-code scanning, there are more than one ways for an Alipay user to make transactions.

In China, even beggars can receive alms just by scanning QR codes at designated places.

Two females pay their breakfast purchase at a street booth with Qr code payment. Cashless payment, in daily life is being widely accepted in China. Image: Shutterstock 

Alipay was made available for use in Brunei via a partnership between local fintech startup BEEP Digital Solutions and Ant Financial Services Group. The local firm started to market Alipay into the market sometime in June this year after finally acquiring the necessary approval from Autoriti Monetari Brunei Darussalam (AMBD).

BEEP Digital Solutions managed to bring the facility in by way of developing a digital solution capable of integrating a function that allows local businesses to accept payments via Alipay.

Chief Strategy and Product Officer Denny Muslim told The Bruneian that his firm decided to bring Alipay as it is currently the most popular online payment system in China that has up to 800 million active users.

The app, he said, is also currently available in up to 40 countries that has strong Chinese presence, including Africa and Japan.

“And every year, China has recorded a total of 150 million going overseas for vacation – and that is what Alipay is looking to service in other countries,” he said.

“But the strongest reason would be because the increasing Chinese presence that we continued to see today. There is an increase in Chinese expats in Brunei and there is also a growing influx of Chinese tourists coming to Brunei,” he added.

Last year, statistics from the Tourism Development Department shows that Chinese tourists now made up for the majority of arrivals into Brunei by air with over 60,000 inbound visitors recorded, toppling Malaysia as the largest source of visitors.

“Right now, what we want to do is to increase the uptake of Bruneian businesses to Alipay. So with Mulia Hotel being the latest to join, we are hoping for other lodgings to follow suit,” Denny said.

“At the moment, the app only caters to offline merchants, but we’re looking into ways on how we can integrate online businesses as well.

“And we definitely want to see ways on how we can get our merchants to penetrate the one billion population in China,” he added.

This article was first published on August 31, 2019 in our Weekly E-Paper issue 52

BANDAR SERI BEGAWAN | The Bruneian

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