Caixin
Jan 24, 2017 06:07 PM
BUSINESS & TECH

Alipay to Be Accepted at Lawson Shops in Japan

Genichi Tamatsuka (left), CEO of Lawson Inc., and Douglas Feagin, senior vice president of Ant Financial Services Group, pose with mascots in front of a Lawson convenience store in Tokyo on Monday. Customers can now use Ant Financial's online payment service, Alipay, in the approximately 13,000 Lawson stores in Japan without incurring fees for paying with Chinese yuan. Photo: Xinhua
Genichi Tamatsuka (left), CEO of Lawson Inc., and Douglas Feagin, senior vice president of Ant Financial Services Group, pose with mascots in front of a Lawson convenience store in Tokyo on Monday. Customers can now use Ant Financial's online payment service, Alipay, in the approximately 13,000 Lawson stores in Japan without incurring fees for paying with Chinese yuan. Photo: Xinhua

(Beijing) — China's Ant Financial Services Group has announced that its electronic payments service, Alipay, will be accepted at the 13,000 Lawson convenience stores throughout Japan effective Jan. 24.

The move is an extension of a pilot program that was first implemented in nine Lawson branches in January 2016.

The move comes just four days before Spring Festival, or Chinese New Year, the most important holiday in the lunar calendar, during which many Chinese people travel overseas. Japan as one of the top destinations.

Lawson is a leading convenience-store operator in Japan, and more than 60% of its customers are tourists from overseas, spending 20% more than domestic shoppers, Lawson Inc. chairman and CEO Genichi Tamatsuka said at a news conference on Monday.

Japan receives more visitors from China than any other country, with Chinese accounting for 26% of all foreign tourists in 2016, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

Customers will be able to use Alipay to settle payments in Chinese yuan rather than Japanese yen in Lawson stores without an additional service charge, said Douglas Feagin, Ant Financial Services Group senior vice president, on Monday.

Lawson also started to introduce Chinese-language in-store radio announcements on Tuesday to cater to Chinese customers, Feagin said.

Alipay’s partnership with Lawson is part of a broader strategy as the payment service provider moves into overseas markets popular with Chinese travelers. The payment services of major rival Tencent Holdings Ltd. are still confined to China and are connected to its popular QQ and WeChat social networking platforms.

A month ago, Alipay announced plans to partner with four financial institutions in Europe — Barclays PLC, BNP Paribas Group, UniCredit SpA and SIX Payment Services Ltd. — to provide payment services to Chinese travelers in nearly 1 million stores throughout Europe.

The Chinese online payment service also inked deals with Thai payment firm Ascend Money last month, U.S. payment processors First Data and Verifone in October, French payment technology firm Ingenico in August, and India’s largest online payment provider, Paytm, in 2015.

Alipay has more than 400 million users worldwide, and Ant Financial is eying an initial public offering in either Hong Kong or the Chinese mainland as soon as this year.

Contact reporter Coco Feng (renkefeng@caixin.com)

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