What is AliPay and How Does it Work?

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What is AliPay?

You’ve probably heard of things like Alibaba and AliExpress, but AliPay is a slightly lesser-known concept for a lot of companies. AliPay is most prominent in China, where digital payments have mostly replaced cash payments. The majority of residents use mobile payment systems.

Until recently, visitors in China would often struggle to pay for services and goods online, because mobile payment apps required access to a Chinese bank account. However, AliPay helps to solve this problem, by allowing people to access payments in China temporarily.

AliPay has also emerged as a convenient e-wallet service for the majority of Asian consumers. Millions of transactions are processed in this sales solution every day, and residents now use AliPay as a digital wallet on their smartphone for making payments quickly in-store.

What is AliPay?

what is alipay

AliPay belongs to the Alibaba group, known around the world for offering access to wholesale purchase. Alibaba also owns AliExpress.

The most popular wallet-based shopping solution in China, AliPay works in a similar way to things like Apple Pay and Google Pay. Essentially, users enter their credit or bank card details into the AliPay app to make a wallet system. From there, it’s easy to pay for things through AliPay via access to a QR code, or when using the AliPay app.

Unlike alternative payment methods such as PayPal, which charges a cross border or foreign exchange fee, AliPay will only charge a single transaction fee. As a secure and well-established service, AliPay has emerged as a popular mobile shopping method, for Chinese residents, and visitors too.

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How Does AliPay Work?

Alipay is similar to any mobile wallet solution for quick and easy transactions. Customers can add their credit or bank account details to an account to create a wallet, then process payments from within that account. When you opt for an AliPay payment, you can fill in your account details, or use a QR code with the AliPay app.

When a transaction is approved by AliPay, the status will change to completed on the app, and the MultiSafePay system adds the funds to the balance in your account. AliPay can work both in-store and online. This is also a very popular product for receiving and sending international money transfers around the world, because there are fewer cross border fees.

If you’re travelling to China, you can also sign up for a pass lasting 90 days which allows you to continue using the service during your visit.

If a merchant accepts AliPay, it’s very easy to send a payment through your smartphone. The service will send you a pin code to enter in the checkout for the transaction or give you a QR code to scan so you can confirm your details.

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How Does the Transaction Flow Work?

On the AliPay app, you’ll see the status of your order, the transaction status, and a few other details. The order status indicates the status of the order and can let you know whether the merchant has accepted or rejected your request. The transaction status shows if your payment has gone through or not. A transaction can be identified as expired, void, cancelled, completed, or pending.

AliPay also has a handy feature which allows you to attract refunds. You can see whether your request for a refund has gone through, and the status will change to “completed” when the refund successfully goes through the system.

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Using the AliPay Tour Pass Service

In general, the AliPay payment method will only be eligible to use with a verified account linked to a Chinese bank. However, this isn’t the case if you’re using the tour-pass service which allows you to travel to China and pay for goods while you’re there.

If you want to use the tour pass service, you’ll need to download the AliPay app onto your phone from your chosen app store and sign up for an account. It’s free to sign up, and you should be able to add and save your credit and debit card details quickly.

AliPay will ask you to verify your identity, bank information, and phone number. You can use the app to download and buy your prepaid cards using your international debit or credit card. You can also top up with a minimum of 100 yuan or a maximum of 2000 yuan at any given time.

The Benefits of Using AliPay

Having your own Alipay account comes with a few benefits. First and foremost, it’s worth noting that the mobile wallet industry for online payment management is more popular than ever today. The added benefit of being able to shop in places like Hong Kong and Singapore with your Alipay wallet makes the solution even more attractive.

The biggest benefits of this payment service mentioned by retails and shoppers alike include:

  • Safety: Shopping with an Alipay wallet or using your wallet to transfer money is just like using a Visa or MasterCard. It’s even safe to use this kind of payment when on vacation, as you don’t have to carry your bank accounts or significant amounts of cash.
  • Convenience: Alipay allows you to easily make payments online, with no need to fill out personal information and card details as you shop in mainland China or online. It’s the most popular wallet service in China, although Wechat Pay is pretty popular too.
  • Secure: To transfer money and make payments with Alipay, you’ll need to add a code into your mobile app. If your phone has a touch ID, you can even scan your fingerprint as a method of authorizing transactions.
  • Versatile: If you’re from the United States and need to shop in China, it’s definitely worth learning about Alipay. You can use the Alipay service to buy almost anything in China. There’s also support for handling things like online mobile payments and in-store transactions. Alipay users love the versatility.
  • Speed: Everything from making Cashless payments through iPhone and Android, to topping up your phone is quick and easy with Alipay. You can even get any remittances fast from this payment platform, so there’s less time spent waiting for EUR, USD, and other currencies to arrive in your wallet.
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Is Alipay Similar to PayPal?

Alipay is essentially the Chinese equivalent to PayPal. There are other solutions out there for paying in CNY, such as Taobao (Tmall) and Wechat pay, but most retailers are familiar with Alipay. The tour pass capability means you can easily start shopping in China without having to open a local bank account. Plus, there aren’t any credit card fees to worry about, because you’re paying with the money you load into your own profile.

Alipay is widely regarded to be a safe and secure solution for shopping online. If you have a mobile number and your own smartphone, you can sign up quickly and easily, and all of your information is automatically encrypted to protect against risk.

Security protection is implemented for all transactions, but it’s still recommended you follow safety best practices when shopping with any mobile or online wallet. Activate your biometric locking system if you can, and make sure you don’t make any payments over public Wi-Fi.

If you’re handling any transactions in China or online, it’s also best to do some research. Just like shopping in New Zealand or anywhere else, it’s easy to get tricked by a reliable looking point of sale system. Be vigilant about protecting your smartphone if you have any mobile wallets in place, to ensure that you don’t become a victim of theft and fraud.

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Quick Points about Alipay

Alipay is a convenient way to handle transactions in China and online. Crucially, most of the time, your Alipay wallet will only work if you have a Chinese bank account. However, if you need access to the Chinese ecosystem for a small time, you can use your visitor pass option to create an account for up to 90 days with an international bank account.

Remember, this isn’t a credit card, so you will need to add money to your Alipay account before you can begin making transactions online, or in Chinese markets. Keep a close eye on your Alipay wallet to ensure you don’t run out of cash, and watch for any unrecognized transactions to be safe.

Transactions won’t be successful if the conditions linked to your Alipay card aren’t met, so make sure you check all the information available about setting up your solution online and pay attention to any special rules that are in place during COVID times.

Whether you’re using Alipay directly, or an affiliate company of Alipay, like Ant Financial, it’s always a good idea to check the information available from the website. There’s no expiry date on transactions for refunds, and most payments are processed in Euros.

If you have any uncertainties about using Alipay, check the website for a full guide to what kind of transactions are accepted and how the system works for international card holders. It’s also worth making sure that you follow the Alipay terms and conditions listed for new account holders, or you could risk having your account closed down, with money still in it.

Rebekah Carter

Rebekah Carter is an experienced content creator, news reporter, and blogger specializing in marketing, business development, and technology. Her expertise covers everything from artificial intelligence to email marketing software and extended reality devices. When she’s not writing, Rebekah spends most of her time reading, exploring the great outdoors, and gaming.

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