Contactless payment in Japan. Photo: iStock

Alipay, an online payment platform operated by Ant Financial, has extended its services to more than 300,000 Japanese merchants as of early 2019, up from 50,000 merchants a year ago.

The increase was also a result of a push by the Japanese government to drive greater adoption of mobile payments, the Hangzhou-based company said in an emailed press release on Tuesday.

Alipay said it is working to help local merchants cope with the influx through digital payments in Japan, which will remain an attractive destination for Chinese tourists in the coming years. It said Chinese tourists use Alipay’s e-wallet as it is a mobile payment experience they are familiar with back home.

Japan was ranked the fourth top destination, in terms of Alipay transaction volume, over China’s four-day Labour Day holiday break in early May.

The country also posted one of the biggest increases in tourist spending, with average spending on Alipay per person rising 25% year-on-year. The most popular merchants for shoppers during the break were convenience stores, airport shops and department stores, according to Alipay statistics.

The number of visitors to Japan topped 31 million last year – up 8.7% from 2017, according to the Japan National Tourism Organization.

The number of Chinese tourists to Japan grew nearly 14% to 8 million, while the number of South Korean tourists rose 5.6% to 7.5 million. Chinese tourists spent a total of 1.54 trillion yen (US$14 billion) in Japan last year.

Alipay said that it is working with its e-wallet strategic partners in other Asian markets to bring more consumers to Japan in the near future.

Its e-wallet partners include TrueMoney in Thailand, GCash in the Philippines, kakaopay in the Republic of Korea, and Paytm in India.

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