Nielsen report finds outbound Chinese tourists continue to embrace mobile payment while overseas merchants enjoy benefits of wider adoption

Hangzhou, China – January 21, 2019: Nielsen and Alipay have jointly released a new survey titled “2018 trends of Chinese mobile payment in outbound tourism,” shedding light on the latest trends in outbound tourism and the consumption habits of Chinese travelers.

Surveying more than 2,800 Chinese travelers and over 1,200 overseas merchants, the report concludes that the average budget for Chinese tourists traveling abroad has increased, with more tourists adopting mobile payment while travelling overseas. On their most recent overseas trips, Chinese tourists paid for 32% of transactions using mobile payment, overtaking cash for the first time.

In addition to serving Chinese tourists, Chinese mobile payment platforms also help to boost the operations of overseas merchants. After they adopted Alipay, 58% of merchants surveyed said their foot traffic increased, while 56% saw improved sales.

The findings provide a new perspective on the dynamics of China’s ever-changing consumer market, at a time when Chinese tourists are increasingly traveling the world, and their spending and choices become more influential.

Key findings include:

-- Outbound Chinese tourists traveled to more destinations in 2018, with respondents visiting an average of 2.8 countries/regions, up from 2.1 in 2017. Both the average actual spending and travel budget for outbound Chinese tourists increased year on year—the former up by 6% to USD 6,026 and the latter up by 15% to USD 6,706.

-- Shopping, accommodations and dining remained the top three categories for purchases by Chinese tourists. Discounts, quality and pricing are the three key factors weighing on Chinese tourists' shopping decisions.

-- Chinese tourists from second-tier cities have become a new driving force in the Chinese outbound tourism market. Of note, 38% of surveyed tourists from second-tier cities traveled to Europe in 2018, surpassing the proportion of respondents from first-tier cities for the first time. In addition, 22% of those from second-tier cities traveled to North America, on par with the proportion of Chinese tourists from first-tier cities.

-- Chinese tourists have become more adventurous in their choice of travel destinations. In 2018, 10% of outbound Chinese tourists traveled to Central Asia, Western Asia and Africa, a noticeable increase from the previous year. Chinese millennials are leading the trend in selecting lesser traveled destinations. 18% of respondents born between 1990 and 1999 have traveled to Central and Western Asia as well as Africa, while 5% have traveled to Nordic countries.

-- Chinese millennials are no longer the single most dominant group of mobile payment users abroad—the older generations are catching up. 68% of Chinese tourists born between 1970 and 1979 used mobile payment methods while travelling abroad in 2018, almost equaling the percentage of mobile payment users among Chinese millennials traveling abroad in 2018.

-- Chinese travelers are now using mobile payment all over the world. In 2018, over 60% of Chinese tourists made payments with their mobile phones in locations ranging from Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand to Europe, the United States and Australia. 90% of surveyed merchants in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand reported encountering Chinese customers who inquired whether mobile payment was accepted in their stores.

-- Mobile payment methods not only provide a convenient option for Chinese customers, but also help to boost sales for local merchants. 71% of Alipay-adopting merchants said they are likely to recommend Alipay to their peers.

-- With the increased usage of mobile payment overseas by Chinese tourists, as well as a deeper understanding of Chinese mobile payment brands by existing merchants, more overseas merchants are willing to adopt Chinese mobile payment solutions. According to merchants in Singapore, Malaysia and Thailand, 60% of those who have already adopted Chinese mobile payment solutions are likely to recommend these payment methods to their business peers. Of those yet to introduce mobile payment, 55% are very likely to accept Chinese mobile payment solutions in the future.

To download the full report, please refer to Nielsen website. (