Taxi companies in New York City and Las Vegas will accept Alipay, a Chinese mobile payment system, starting at the end of this month. The taxi companies are eager to attract Chinese tourists as both cities are destinations for millions of international visitors every year.
Alipay is operated by Alibaba, the world’s largest retailer and e-commerce company. The mobile payments app identifies and scans QR codes to pay for everything in China from tiny street vendors to national chains. Alipay is more common than credit cards in Mainland China and has 450 million active users. In the United States, Alipay codes will be processed by Verifone. The U.S. company makes devices like credit card machines and processes half of the world’s point-of-sale transactions. First and foremost, the cooperation between the two companies will expand Chinse travelers’ access to U.S. goods and services.
If even a small fraction of Alipay users travel abroad to popular U.S. destinations like Las Vegas, it’s no wonder cab companies are eager to offer a payment advantage to their customers. Chinese travelers might not otherwise have a credit card accepted in the United States and are forced to use unfamiliar cash, breeding confusion and slowing down the average transaction with a cab driver. Offering Alipay also gives cab companies a (presumably brief) advantage over ride-sharing services that require a U.S. account or credit card.
The payment system will be available on 2,100 Las Vega cabs by the end of October and 14,000 New York cabs in November.