Tax refund and international shopping and spending specialist Global Blue has partnered with China’s leading online payment service provider Alipay to enable Chinese tourist to have their VAT reimbursed directly into their Alipay accounts.
From July 8, 2014, travellers holding Alipay accounts will be able to receive their tax refunds from goods and services purchased from 5,000 retailers across France, Germany, Italy, South Korea and the UK, including luxury department stores such as Harrods in the UK, KaDeWe in Germany and La Rinascente in Italy. More countries are expected to roll out the service in the coming months.
“Chinese globe shoppers are our biggest spending nationality, spending on average €815 ($1,107) per transaction based on their VAT refunds processed with us. With the United Nations World Tourism Organisation estimating the number of Chinese tourists to double to 200m by 2020, it is essential we continue to anticipate their needs and offer a hassle-free tax refund experience,” said Global Blue CEO David Baxby.
Chinese travellers are “an incredibly important demographic in all our key markets” Baxby told DFNI. “We regard Alipay as the leading payment platform in China. Clearly it has a strong role to play in markets like Europe.”
Global Blue has a very strong understanding of where the Chinese travellers are going and has targeted specific merchants and airports that they choose to go to, he explained.
“Korea was an obvious market to start and an important market for Chinese travellers in a tourism perspective, but Europe is for us the biggest investment and where we have spent a lot of time on systems and processes to ensure we can facilitate these transactions,” he added.
Alipay is used by Chinese citizens to pay anything from online purchases and utility bills to movie tickets and is often used to pay for international transactions with leading retailers.
“Alipay is thrilled to work with Global Blue in this milestone collaboration to make it easier for merchants to better meet the growing spending needs of Chinese consumers,” said Alipay International president Sabrina Peng.
”We are confident that this cooperation will create a more enjoyable and convenient overseas shopping experience for Alipay customers.”
Furthermore, Global Blue plans to integrate the refund to an Alipay account with its existing membership card—Global Blue Card—which eliminates the need to fill out the tax-free form by hand, and offers an exclusive series of merchant promotions and discounts. Chinese card holders will have the option to update their membership profiles online, to have their Alipay account as their preferred refund channel. The company added it has almost 100,000 Chinese globe shoppers signed-up since the membership card’s launch in May
“The strong connection we have [with Alipay] is all about the simplification of the process and removing all the pain from the transaction. It is incredibly seamless from a consumer perspective.
“We have made a lot of investment in making tax free shopping as painless as we can— we refunded €1.3bn ($1.8bn) to travellers last year and believe we can continue to grow that by investing in technology with partners like Alipay,” he told DFNI.
The two companies will be working together in the coming months to develop and roll out various products and services to the benefit of Chinese globe shoppers and retailers that serve them.