Baidu Wallet launches in Thailand

China’s Baidu Wallet has launched its mobile payment service in Thailand, on the eve of the traditional Thai new-year celebration Songkran.

Part of the Baidu search-engine group, the digital payment service is now connected to more than 400 merchants in four Thai cities – Bangkok, Chiang Mai, Pattaya and Phuket. It covers restaurants, shopping malls and spas.

Baidu Wallet is also set to launch in South Korea and Japan, with plans to also expand into Hong Kong, Macau and Taiwan.

Baidu Wallet’s smartphone app means Chinese travellers can avoid the bother of exchanging currency. They need only scan the QR codes of partnered merchants and enter the amount of Thai baht they need. The app converts the figure to yuan based on real-time exchange rates.

China has the highest adoption rate in the world for technology-enabled payment systems, according to a new survey by market data company Nielsen. With information from 13,000 respondents across 26 countries, the survey shows that 86 per cent of Chinese respondents paid for online purchases over a six-month period, while the global average rate was half that at 43 per cent.

A report by consultancy iResearch shows that China’s mobile payment transactions reached $373.2 billion in the third quarter of last year, a 64 per cent increase year-on-year.

China has been the biggest source of international tourists since 2012, says the Tourism Authority of Thailand. There were 7.9 million Chinese tourists last year – 27 per cent of total international arrivals.

Chinese travellers spent 6400 baht (US$180) a day each on average, with most tourists spending 5690 baht.

A report from Forrester Research says the rapid growth of smartphones is driving an eCommerce boom across Southeast Asia, the world’s third-largest digital marketplace after China and India. This boom is being paralleled by strong payment growth via mobile. Companies are boosting their investments in online and mobile platforms such as Carousell in Singapore and Tarad in Thailand, where 35 per cent of purchases are made via a mobile device.

Alipay, from Alibaba, has introduced an online shopping service Thailand duty-free shop King Power, and the WeChat app payment option launched in Thailand at the beginning of this year.

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