Russia’s VTB Banking Group has entered into a partnership with China’s Alipay in a move that sees the world’s largest online and mobile payment platform join forces with Russia’s largest provider.
VTB had recently begun merchant acquiring for Alipay payments service in its over-120,000 Point of Sale (POS) device network, which now makes VTB Group the biggest partner of Alipay in Russia. It is expected that more than 1 million Chinese travelers will benefit from the new partnership every year.
The service will be launched shortly after a pilot program in August. Q3-Q4 2017 will see its roll-out to the whole VTB network of close to 100,000 merchants.
Alipay is the world’s largest online and mobile wallet with more than 520 million active users. For Chinese shoppers, the new partnership will lead to more convenience and safety during their trips to Russia, and Russian merchants will have the ability to use all the value added marketing functions the system provides. For shops and restaurants, it means promising an increase of conversion rates, average ticket size and turnover.
According to an estimation of VTB24, the VTB Group’s retail banking arm, Alipay will be in high demand in Moscow, St Petersburg, Khabarovsk, Vladivostok, Blagoveshchensk and Irkutsk. “We see the number of Chinese tourists is increasingly growing,” said Alexey Kirichek, VP, Director of Merchant Acquiring Department, VTB24. “Potential volume of this market is approximately 300 billion rubles per year. Average ticket size of Alipay users is 2-3 times higher than in other payment methods, hence we expect high demand for the new service from merchants.”
“For Alipay, it’s very important to get support from one of the largest banks in Russia. Large-scale acceptance of Alipay on the whole POS infrastructure of VTB24 will allow us to speed up and facilitate the launch of our service at merchants and enable country level coverage,” said Bogdan Zadorozhny, Alipay’s Business Development Director for Russia.
Alipay became available in Russia for Chinese tourists starting in April 2017. Merchants include a number of souvenir shops and department stores in Moscow and St Petersburg. In July, Alipay announced its partnership with Moscow’s Department of Public Transportation. In the near future, Chinese tourists will be able to use Alipay to buy bus or metro tickets.
Alipay has been expanding to in-store offline payments both inside and outside of China. Over 10 million brick-and-mortar merchants now accept Alipay across China. In addition, it is accepted in over 30 countries and regions, with in-store payments covering more than 200,000 retail stores.
VTB24 is one of the leaders in the merchant acquiring business in Russia. Last year, the acquiring volume of the bank reached 1 trillion rubles. This year, the bank plans to achieve 1.4 trillion. Among the biggest customers of VTB24 are such retailers as Auchan, Russian Railways, Yandex Taxi, and VK.com.
“This has huge implications for Russia as it eases up the transactional might of Chinese trade and tourism spending” says Chris Devonshire-Ellis of Dezan Shira & Associates. “This is of huge benefit to the Russian economy as it climbs out of the devaluation caused by the Wests sanctions. Russian businesses should be looking closely at the China market in terms of service capabilities and marketing brands to take advantage of this powerful new tool.”
Chris Devonshire-Ellis is the Founding Partner and Chairman of Dezan Shira & Associates. He is based in Europe. The firm provides European businesses and governments with strategic, legal, tax and operational advisory services to SMEs and MNCs investing throughout Asia and has 28 offices across China, India and the ASEAN nations as well as St. Petersburg and Moscow. Please contact the firm at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the practice at www.dezshira.com
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