Uber has announced a global expansion of their partnership with Alipay, the dominant Chinese online payment service, allowing mainland users to use their native payments internationally. Previously Chinese users would have to link their account to a dual currency credit card.
Its a major move for Uber, who have been running a multi-billion dollar campaign to boost their services in China. They can now potentially monetize on the 120 million outbound trips made by Chinese tourists every year, a larger population than some of the countries that Uber operates in.
It’s also created a significant new foothold for Uber in their effort to outpace Chinese ride-hailing giant Didi Chuxing.
Through mutual investors and direct investment, Didi has created a formidable network of international ride-hailing partners, including U.S.-based Lyft, Singapore’s Grab Taxi and India’s Ola Cabs. Didi has already begun leveraging this network to capture the market of traveling consumers. This year they announced that Lyft drivers could be hailed in the U.S. through Didi Chuxing’s Chinese app, while Didi drivers can be hailed in China by Lyft users.
By expanding Alipay to the 400+ global cities and 68 countries that Uber is currently working in, they have essentially matched the potential payment advantage offered by Didi’s global network.
Through the partnership with Alipay Uber has also forged a strategic partnership with PayTM, a leading Indian payments company that is backed by Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial.
“Alipay’s collaboration with Uber reflects a step forward of Ant Financial’s global strategy,” said Ant Financial President Eric Jing, “and the collaboration also extends to the Alipay’s strategic global partners like Paytm in India.”
Alipay’s parent company, Ant Financial, recently raised a $4.5 billion USD funding round, setting a global record for the largest-ever single funding event for a privately owned tech company. Alibaba is the largest shareholder in Ant Financial, which spun off from Alibaba in 2014.
Interestingly, Alibaba is also a major shareholder in Didi Chuxing, which goes to show that when it comes to extending their international payment network, Ant Financial has no qualms crossing the lines of loyalty laid out by their biggest shareholder.