Paying for groceries by phone is the next step in our march towards a cashless society, according to Michael Wong, vice president of AlphaPay, a Richmond-based company that has just installed a system, allowing some customers to pay using Alipay and WeChat pay.
T&T supermarket, Canada's largest Asian grocery store, has become the first supermarket chain in Richmond to accept transactions using the system.
AlphaPay has equipped all T&T locations across Canada with the new technology creating a convenient payment method for the local Chinese demographics, said Wong.
Customers can show the payment QR code of Alipay or WeChat Pay at the time of purchase, which is then scanned by T&T. The funds will automatically be taken from the customer's WeChat/Ali wallet linked to their Chinese bank account.
"The transaction process will take no longer than 3 seconds. Consumers don't need to worry about bringing cards or cash wherever they go. They can leave wallets at home as long as they have downloaded the WeChat Pay or Alipay app on the phone," said Wong.
Travel from China, Canada's second source market of overseas travelers, was up 1.1 percent in May of 2019 compared with the same period in 2018, as stated by a report released by Statistics Canada.
The rise in overseas travel from China and spending by Chinese consumers -- as high as $341 billion in 2018 alone -- emphasizes the impact of cross-border payment solutions on the Canadian market, according to a written statement from AlphaPay.
Wong noted that this "mobile wallet" technology might also allow local businesses see a spike in spending since Chinese tourists and international students can have access to their bank accounts in China anytime.
And they don't need to worry about facing cross-border payment processing challenges, such as spending limitations and exchange rates.
Before launching the mobile payment technology at T&T, Wong and his team members spent a year and a half conducting numerous user tests to ensure the program runs smoothly for both businesses and customers.
"At the end of the day, people expect a better shopping experience, especially at the supermarket; they even don't want a 20-second delay. So we've invested a lot of effort to make sure both merchants and clients can process faster."
China is now poised to be one of the world's first cashless societies, with some vendors in China turning down cash in favour of mobile app payments. But this idea is relatively new to local consumers.
Wong aims to introduce the "cashless concept" to more consumers by expanding the mobile payment services to other sectors.
Through the partnership with AlphaPay, the Keg Steakhouse and Bar in Yaletown will accept WeChat pay and Alipay in the upcoming weeks. Other chains are expected to follow suit soon after.