Astra Tech, one of the biggest tech ecosystems in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region, on Monday announced that it has entered into a pioneering partnership with Ant Group to launch Alipay+ solutions in the UAE.
This transformative collaboration will witness the integration of Alipay+’s global cross-border digital payment and marketing solutions through the PayBy merchant network, encompassing the entire Abu Dhabi fleet of nearly 7,000 taxis and over 3,000 merchants nationwide.
Commencing as soon as September, the integration aims to enable over 1.4 billion wallet users to conduct transactions seamlessly, directly from their home e-wallets while visiting the UAE, devoid of any currency conversion.
Astra Tech is among the first regional partners to launch Alipay+ solutions, adding to the company’s portfolio of groundbreaking fintech offerings on its Payby and Botim platforms. Under the partnership, the first wave of implementation will see PayBy’s merchant network capable of accepting payments from six Alipay+ partner e-wallets.
Catering to tourists from regions such as China, South Korea, the Philippines, Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, Italy, and more via their respective native e-wallets such as Alipay, MPay, Kakao Pay, GCash, TrueMoney and Tinaba.
This collaboration is poised to revolutionise the retail landscape in the UAE, providing an unprecedented seamless payment and digital marketing experience for international visitors. It facilitates settlement processes and mobile-based transactions through Alipay+, whether in physical stores or online platforms.
The in-store payment process is simplified through more digital options; customers can scan the QR code at the cashier, enter the amount for payment, and confirm the transaction, or merchants can scan the payment QR codes presented by the customers on their mobile phones. This streamlines the checkout process and addresses challenges such as having to exchange currencies, withdraw cash, and language barriers.
Enhancing Payment Ecosystem
Abdallah Abu Sheikh, Co-founder of Astra Tech, and CEO of Botim said that this collaboration with Alipay+ aligns perfectly with the UAE’s commitment to enhancing the payment ecosystem and fostering a commerce-friendly environment.
He added: “We are thrilled to partner with Alipay+ to enhance secure and seamless payment processes, in line with Astra Tech’s vision of fostering global financial inclusion. Equally, expanding our fintech services internationally is a testament to our dedication to enabling effortless accessibility of payment solutions on a global scale.”
With a mission to empower both merchants and consumers, this strategic move creates an ecosystem that harmoniously merges commerce, technology, and user convenience. Simultaneously, Alipay+ and PayBy will expand collaboration for online services and merchant digitization efforts, including the introduction of mini programs for merchants that could further enhance their engagement with customers from Asia and Europe.
Alipay+’s suite of marketing solutions is expected to elevate the retail experience for international patrons in the UAE. Simplification remains at the core of this partnership, exemplified by a streamlined documentation process based on a merchant’s determined risk profile.
Guoming Cheng, General Manager of Ant Group in Europe and Middle East said that the alliance with Astra Tech not only opens doors to a seamless and integrated digital payment experience at physical stores in the Middle East, but also propels Ant Group towards a new era of strategic collaboration.
“This partnership leverages the combined global outreach of Alipay+ and PayBy-powered versatile and scalable integration solutions for the region. Furthermore, it extends an invitation to merchants to ride on the digitalization wave, together transform the retail landscape, and become part of this innovative ecosystem,” Cheng explained.
The UAE is expected to experience continuous growth in the number of international tourist arrivals from 2024 to 2028, with a total increase of 4.4 million arrivals per annum, representing a substantial rise of 44.99%.
Suggesting that by the year 2028, the UAE will witness a seventh consecutive year of growth in arrivals, reaching a total of 14.2 million arrivals; this partnership’s significance grows apparent. Particularly, when considering the numbers provided by Dubai Tourism, which recorded 8.55 million visitors in the period of January to June 2023 alone.
Responding to this trend, Astra Tech and Alipay+’s collaboration aligns with Dubai’s long-standing position as one of the world’s most popular tourist destinations and powerhouse for global finance and businesses.