China’s outbound and inbound travels showed fast and resilient rebounds during the recent long holiday to commence the year of the Rabbit, as witnessed by strong growth of popular cross-border digital payments.
Between January 21 and 26, the year-on-year growth of outbound transaction volumes by Alipay users has surged by 150%, with the Hong Kong and Macao S.A.R.s being the most popular destinations for mainland consumers, based on the number of transactions during this Chinese New Year period.
Specifically, the number of transactions through Alipay from Chinese mainland tourists to Macao increased by 100%, while that from Chinese mainland tourists to Hong Kong increased by nearly 70%. Alipay currently serves more than 1 billion users and has transformed from a trusted payment tool to a digital open platform over the years.
Besides Hong Kong and Macao, Southeast Asian countries have reclaimed their importance as one of the most popular destinations for outbound Chinese mainland travelers. The top five Southeast Asian markets with the highest transaction volume by Alipay users during the first six days of the holiday were Thailand, Malaysia, Singapore, the Philippines and Cambodia.
Japan is one of the top five destinations for Alipay users during the period, along with Hong Kong, Macao, Thailand, and Malaysia. The most Alipay cross-border payments took place with merchants such as street vendors and convenience stores, and the highest average spending was seen at duty-free shops across various markets.
On January 8, China announced its first steps to reduce travel restrictions between the mainland and Hong Kong, lifting quarantine requirements that were in place for almost three years. The Chinese New Year public holiday witnessed a surge in cross-border travel between the mainland and overseas markets as mainland consumers resumed overseas travel and travelers from Hong Kong and Macao piled back to the mainland, mostly for family reunions or leisure activities.
AlipayHK saw transactions in the mainland and Macao jump 18 times from January 21 to 24, compared to the same period last year.
The number of AlipayHK users that completed a transaction in the mainland and Macao also soared 15 times year-on-year in the same period.