A big development in the attraction of Monaco as a yachting destination for Chinese investors and clients has been achieved this week.
Monaco signs MoU for mobile payments
A memorandum of understanding (MoU) was signed on Tuesday 27 June at Les Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo between the Government of Monaco and Alipay and attended by senior dignitaries and business figures.
The MoU was agreed at a signing ceremony with attendees including:
- Douglas Feagin, President of International Business, Ant Financial Services Group
- H.E Mr Serge Telle, the Prime Minister of Principality of Monaco
- Tony Duan, Vice President of Fliggy Travel (in simplified Chinese, ‘FeiZhu’), the rebranded name for Alibaba Group’s travel label.
- Bernard D’Alessandri, CEO, Monaco Yacht Club
- Gilbert Schweitzer, CEO, Monacair
- Jean Luc Biamonti, CEO, Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer
- Didier Boidin, COO, Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer
- Serge Ethuin CEO, Métropole Hotel
- Xavier Rugeroni, General Manager and Régional Vice President, Fairmont Hotel Monte Carlo
The Monaco government and Alipay, the world’s biggest online and mobile payment platform, operated by Ant Financial Services Group, have agreed to this ground-breaking memorandum of understanding to allow Chinese customers a seamless mobile payment experience in Monaco.
The Minister of State said, ‘The future is mobile payment, and China is at the forefront of innovation in this field. We are delighted to be able to offer these contactless payment methods to Chinese tourists visiting our Principality and we hope to reap the benefits of this partnership.’
MoU with Alipay strengthens yachting links
More than 2,000 merchants and restaurants in Europe accept payments via the mobile app Alipay, compared with just 200 at the end of November 2016, according to Rita Liu, head of Alipay Europe. Monaco is now the 12th country in Europe to accept Alipay.
Two years ago, local French Riviera business Access Riviera published insight into the need for local businesses to adapt to this emerging market and respond to the Chinese customer’s perspective.
Rebecca Whitlocke, Founder of Access Riviera says, ‘Tourism accounts for 12% – 15% of GDP in Monaco so this MoU agreement will have huge economic benefit by creating links with China. The importance of the Government of Monaco formally recognising Alipay as a preferred contactless payment platform reinforces my research that Chinese purchasing behaviour is influenced by making payment easy and convenient, especially when using mobile payment platforms. Yachting, real estate and ancillary services will see their Monaco footprint increase in the forthcoming years as Chinese investors and yachting clients come to regard Monaco as more than a tourist destination. This will likely see businesses implement marketing and promotions during the Lunar New Year and a similar national holiday in October known as Golden Week.’
Alipay in Monaco
In Monaco, members who have already joined the Alipay platform include Monte-Carlo Société des Bains de Mer with 4 hotels (Hôtel de Paris Monte-Carlo, Hotel Hermitage Monte-Carlo, Monte-Carlo Bay Hotel and Resort, Monte-Carlo Beach), 3 spas including Thermes Marins Monte-Carlo, souvenir and gift shops, restaurants and bars.
Alipay is also accepted by Monacair, Monaco’s V.I.P. helicopter airline and official supplier to S.A.S. the Sovereign Prince of Monaco.
The signing of the MoU is expected to lead to a increase in the number of businesses in the Principality accepting this type of payment. Merchants who may onboard with Alipay in the coming months include the Monaco Yacht Club, Métropole Hotel, and the Fairmont Hotel Monte Carlo.
Operated by Ant Financial Services Group, Alipay launched in 2004, and now has more than 450 million active users and more than 400 partner financial institutions.
In addition to online payments, Alipay is entering the in-store payment market both in China and abroad.
More than eight million shops accept Alipay across China and more than 120,000 bricks-and-mortar shops globally.
Alipay works with over 200 overseas financial institutions and payment solution providers to enable cross-border payments for Chinese travelling overseas and overseas customers who purchase products from Chinese e-commerce sites. Alipay currently supports 19 currencies.
Alipay is expanding its real-time tax refund services to as many as 12 European airports. In February this year, Alipay’s refund system was introduced at three European airports, including Milan, Munich and Helsinki. The real-time tax refund service, co-launched by Alipay and Swiss tax return services provider Global Blue, allows consumers to receive payment to their Alipay account immediately after receiving approval at the appropriate airport counter.
Separately, Alipay also provides tax refund services for Chinese visitors travelling to 23 European countries.