Uber has formed a partnership with the Ant Financial Services Group that will make it easier for China-based riders to pay for rides in other regions. Ahead of the Chinese New Year, the company permits riders from mainland China to use their Alipay accounts when using the service in other regions, starting with Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau. The payments will be made in RMB currency and will be extended to other parts of the world later this year.
Alipay had been supported by Uber since 2014, but only for those rides within mainland China. If you traveled to Hong Kong, you would have to connect a dual-currency credit card with your account and be billed in U.S. dollars. Now this simplifies the payment process and is likely a move to encourage more riders to consider using Uber.
More than 125 million outbound trips were made by people from mainland China in 2015, according to the investment group CLSA. And Chinese New Year is an event when millions of people will make the trek home to spend time with their family — which Uber wants to help enable. So in order to overcome a potential roadblock, specifically having to deal with currency issues just to get home, Uber struck this partnership to make it easier for Chinese riders.
Also, by making its service more convenient to riders in mainland China, Uber could be trying to be more competitive against Didi Chuxing (formerly Didi Kuaidi), which has formed a ridesharing alliance with Uber’s main U.S. rival, Lyft.
“We’re delighted to partner with Alipay, and to work with them to bring the convenience of their payment platform to our users internationally,” said Eric Alexander, Uber’s head of business in Asia, in a canned statement. “As the only truly global ridesharing platform, we are increasingly seeing very strong demand from mainland Chinese riders using Uber in other markets internationally, and this partnership enables us to provide these travelers with a more convenient, hassle-free payment solution.”
The company explained that Hong Kong, Taiwan, and Macau were selected not only due to their popularity with China’s business and leisure travelers, but also because of their importance to Uber and Alipay — all three are key markets for both services.
This isn’t the first time that Alipay has formed a partnership with the private on-demand car service. It has also been a supporter of Uber’s API service.