“There are a lot of merchants out there who understand the value of the Chinese consumer and they understand the amount of financial resources they bring to market.”

A record number of 1.4 million Chinese tourists visited Australia last year and 166,000 Chinese students are pursuing their higher education in Australia on short-term student visas.

The 2016 census also found that Australia is home to about 492,000 Chinese-born residents and citizens, with most choosing Sydney or Melbourne as the place to settle.

CBA executive general manager for business customer solutions Clive Van Horen says that retailers who process payments via the bank’s Albert EFTPOS tablet device can offer Alipay to customers through the ePay app. What that means in practice is that at the point of paying for a product or service, a Chinese shopper can open their Alipay App, choose “Scan Code to Pay”, and then scan the order QR code displayed on the Albert tablet screen.

Chinese tourists spent more than $10 billion in Australia in 2017.  Brendon Thorne

“Given there is a very significant Chinese population both visiting and short stay, from our point of view, this is about providing them with choice and convenience,” said Mr Van Horen.

Mr Lawson said that along with the widespread use of mobile payment apps, “the future of retail” is evolving in China.

“There are people sitting in front of magic mirrors, trying on virtual make-up so you can change the lipstick and powder and work out what’s right for you, and then actually order it and have it delivered,” he said.

In October 2017, Chinese consumers flocked to “see now buy now” fashion shows that let viewers make real-time purchases with Alipay of runway items from their mobile phones.

This contrasts to the traditional retail experience of New York or Melbourne Fashion Weeks where most runway products are not available to consumers until several weeks or even months after their initial debut.

Although Alipay makes money by charging users a small transaction fee, a major source of value comes from selling users other financial products integrated on the app, like its money market fund Yu’ebao.

People can invest as little as 0.1 yuan into their Yu’ebao account in a process that takes no more than five clicks.

The arrival of Alipay in Australia may signal one step closer towards the Reserve Bank of Australia governor Philip Lowe’s prediction that cash will one day become nothing but a “niche payment instrument”.

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