Chinese payments platform Alipay will create a digital ticketing channel for Euro 2020 as part of its sponsorship deal with Uefa – the first time the organisation will have sold tickets digitally outside of Uefa.com worldwide.
Last November Alipay signed an eight-year deal with the governing body to be its official Global Payment Partner, Official Global Digital Wallet and Official Global FinTech Partner, for men’s national team events till 2026.
It is estimated around 700 million people in China currently use the Alipay platform which allows users to make cashless payments from their phone. The app also serves as a hub for a host of ‘mini programs’ – light-apps that can be launched more rapidly on the main app interface, instead of having to be downloaded separately as native apps. The company claims more than 230 million active users access Alipay mini-programs daily for a wide array of services ranging from finance and education to medical, transportation and now ticketing.
A statement from Alipay said the company would create a content hub for Chinese fans of national team football in Europe which would include exclusive Uefa content. Chinese fans will be able to start applying for tickets through the app from June 13.
“There is a real appetite amongst Chinese football fans for Uefa’s national team competitions, where they have the chance to see some of the best players on the planet in action,” said Uefa director of marketing Guy-Laurent Epstein. “We want to be in a position to give our fans premium content in their own language and our new partnerships with Alipay allow us to do exactly this.”
It is thought Ant Financial, the parent company of Alipay, is using the partnership with Uefa to increase its global profile and widen its reach outside of its home market.
In addition to online payments, Alipay is expanding to in-store offline payments both inside and outside of China. Alipay’s in-store payment service covers over 50 countries and regions across the world. Alipay said it works with over 250 overseas financial institutions and payment solution providers to enable cross-border payments for Chinese citizens travelling overseas and overseas customers who purchase products from Chinese e-commerce sites and that it currently supports 27 currencies.
To succeed in becoming more widely accepted overseas, the company will have to overcome growing hostility from western governments towards Chinese technology firms. Alipay’s takeover of US money transfer company Moneygram was blocked by the Trump administration earlier this year due to national security concerns.