Mastercard extends tie to Alipay

March 19, 2024 | by

Dive Brief:

  • Mastercard will expand on an existing link with the Chinese company Alipay to let its 1 billion digital wallet users send money across borders to 180 markets, the card network said in a press release Monday.
  • Financial institutions that participate in the collaboration will be able to offer payouts on a network that includes 3.5 billion account holders and can transfer money in 150 currencies, the release said.
  • In explaining the upgraded partnership, Purchase, New York-based Mastercard said its research has shown that consumers make more international money transfers if they have faster tools. Digital wallets are speedier than in-person alternatives, the company argued. “The new agreement allows consumers to receive money in their digital wallets in near-real time,” a spokesperson for the company said.

Dive Insight:

Mastercard and Alipay first hooked up in 2019 when they offered digital payment options for consumers and merchants. They added another joint tool last year designed to help visitors to China go cashless by linking a Mastercard account to Alipay’s digital wallet.

The enhanced partnership with Alipay, which is a unit of Ant Group, follows Mastercard winning approval from the Chinese government last year to operate domestically in that country. Under that new authority, Mastercard entered a joint venture, called Mastercard NUCC Information Technology, to pursue bankcard clearing, according to a November press release.

Mastercard, the No. 2 U.S. card network, is increasingly seeking to offer cross-border payments services, taking on legacy remittance companies such as Western Union and MoneyGram. In that arena, Mastercard is also competing with upstarts such as Remitly, which has partnered with its larger rival Visa.

Consumers “increasingly favor digital versus in-person cross-border payments, motivated by a desire for quick and secure capabilities to send money along with built-in confirmation that funds were received,” Mastercard said in the release.

“China is already one of the largest recipient countries worldwide for international remittances,” Mastercard Greater China Division President Dennis Chang said in the release. “As global economic activities continue to recover, demand for cross-border payments will only increase.”


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