Uber is hoping to squeeze more money from users in China after it announced a tie-in with Alibaba's Alipay that will enable Uber China customers to pay their fare using the payments service when they are overseas.
Alipay and Uber China first partnered to cover domestic rides in 2014, but now the duo is tapping into the huge market for Chinese tourism and business travel. Initially the partnership goes live in Hong Kong, Macau, and Taiwan — three hotspots for travel during the upcoming Chinese New Year — but Uber China said the agreement "will be extended to more regions around the world during the year".
Making payment straightforward is clearly a major hurdle to capturing a large slice of overseas travelers. While Uber is a global brand present in over 300 cities worldwide, the Chinese branch of its service previously required a dual-currency credit card to take rides overseas, with all billings made in U.S. dollars. With fewer dual-currency cards in circulation, that stipulation limits its potential user base.
Adding Alipay, which boats over 400 million active users, is sure to ease things for Uber customers headed overseas. That's particularly important since Didi Kuaidi, the company leading Uber in China, has established a strategic partnership with Lyft in the U.S., Ola in India and Grab in Southeast Asia, which — over time — will enable its customer base to use these other services via the Didi Kuaidi app when they are overseas.