Alibaba’s Ant Financial has entered into a deal with the US-based payment processor First Data to make Alipay available at millions of merchants in the US. With the expansion, the service becomes a direct competitor to existing payment platforms like PayPal, Apple Pay, and Android Pay.
The rollout will start with First Data’s clients that use the company’s Clover products. Alipay will significantly benefit from the agreement, as First Data is one of the world’s largest payment processors, being used by more than six million merchants.
Prior to the expansion, Ant Financial ran two successful pilot programs with luxury retailers in New York and California. Under the deal, Chinese tourists visiting the US will be able to use their smartphones to make purchases at more than 4 million retailers around the country. Apple Pay, for instance, is accepted at nearly 4.5 million US merchants.
By launching Alipay in the US, the company wants to leverage millions of Chinese customers to let them use the payment platform wherever they go. In addition to online transactions, Alipay can be used to book a hotel, get a taxi, order food, or buy movie tickets.
The deal is the latest step Ant Financial has taken aiming to expand its platform outside China. The company has signed a number of deals and made a series of investments in Thailand, Korea, and Singapore, in an effort to grow its business in Asian region and reduce reliance on the Chinese market.
A few weeks ago, Ant Financial partnered with Indonesian media company Elang Mahkota Teknologi (Emtek) to bring its mobile payment services to Indonesia. According to the company, the deal shows its commitment to offer financial services for the unbanked population around the globe.
Alipay, which allows users to store multiple credit cards inside its digital wallet, including Mastercard, Visa, and American Express, is accepted at over 100,000 retailers in 70 different international markets. Ant Financial is also planning to launch the service in more countries in the near future.
Last month, Ant Financial announced the acquisition of the US-based financial services provider MoneyGram for $1.2 billion. Under the deal, MoneyGram will operate as an independent subsidiary of Ant Financial and will retain its brand, management, IT infrastructure and headquarters in Dallas, Texas.
Almost a month ago, Alipay’s rivals, PayPal and Android Pay signed a deal to let Android Pay users make transfers with PayPal at retailers in-store, in-app and online. Meantime, Apple Pay is preparing to open its own peer-to-peer payments platform allowing users to send funds to other smartphone users.