Chinese payments app Alipay has tied up with six mobile wallets in Europe to offer a unified Quick Response (QR) code for mobile payments, the South China Morning Post reported. The tie-up will allow users of all six wallets to pay for purchases in 10 European countries, and will bring together more than 5 million users and over 190,000 merchants, according to a joint statement by the companies.
The six mobile wallets that have tied up with Alipay are Austria’s Bluecode, Finland’s ePassi and Pivo, Norway’s Vipps, Spain’s Momo, and Portugal’s Pagaqui. The SCMP report said that they were working with the Chinese payments provider to roll out a standardised QR code format, provided by Alipay, so that users of any wallet would be able to make payments at merchants that already accept payments from the other wallets. Alipay users will also be able to pay at merchants’ who adopt the QR code format.
In India, the government is looking into making it mandatory for all shops to offer Unified Payments Interface (UPI) payments through QR codes, but this could give the NPCI a virtual monopoly (see below).
Alipay seeking legal entry into Nepal after ban
Last week, we reported that Alipay was looking to launch in Nepal in the next few weeks, just 10 days after Nepal banned it along with its rival WeChat Pay for operating in the country without permission. The ban followed an investigation by the Himalayan Times which found that Alipay and WeChat Pay were being used extensively by Chinese tourists and businesses in Nepal. Because these companies aren’t registered in Nepal, and purchases on their apps are settled in yuan, the apps were effectively bypassing the country’s tax system. Their illegal use also enabled Chinese business owners to bypass Nepal’s tax network when repatriating earnings to their home country.
Would mandatory QR codes for shops give NPCI a monopoly?
In May, we had reported that the Indian government was considering making it mandatory for all shops to offer UPI-based payments through QR codes, and give customers and shopkeepers GST benefits for using UPI. The government’s aim was to bring about behavioural change by introducing the UPI payments for B2C transactions. We wrote at the time that while this move could indeed increase the adoption of digital payments, it would also give NPCI a monopoly as it owns India’s only two interoperable QR code systems — one that is solely for UPI transactions, and the other, BharatQR, for payments through cards as well. “This would amount to a virtual monopoly for NPCI as companies such as Paytm with their own closed QR code systems would be locked out,” payments expert Shashidhar KJ had told MediaNama.