- Wikimedia, CC
Uber is making a play for its Asia-Pacific users that could drive the company miles ahead of its largest rivals in the region.
The ride-hailing company on Monday announced an expansion of its partnership with the mobile payments company Alipay, which will allow Chinese customers to pay for Uber rides outside China using their existing Alipay accounts.
Before the expansion, Uber users from China who were traveling abroad had to link a dual-currency credit card to the Uber app and be charged for their rides in US dollars.
“Chinese travelers know and love how easy it is to request and pay for Uber rides at home; now we’re excited to bring this experience to them wherever they are in the world, right from the Alipay app,” said Eric Alexander, Uber’s Asia-Pacific head of business.
Alipay has 450 million active users in China.
The move effectively creates a seamless app experience for Chinese customers who would otherwise have to deal in the local currency where they’re traveling and be charged in US dollars when using the Uber app.
Eric Jing, president of Ant Financial – the company that operates Alipay – described why the company’s expanded partnership with Uber was so important: “You don’t have to worry about whether you have enough local cash to pay for your rides. All you need is to open your Uber app, find a ride, and pay with Alipay in renminbi,” China’s official currency.
Uber users in China have been able to use Alipay to cover their Uber rides on the mainland since 2014. Users in Taiwan, Hong Kong, and Macau were added earlier this year.
The expanded integration with Alipay allows those same users to pay in Chinese currency in the more than 400 cities in which Uber operates around the world.
Uber has been fighting for market share in China, where another ride-hailing service, Didi Chuxing (formerly Didi Kuaidi), has been focused on raising funds that could push its valuation to as much as $25 billion, The Wall Street Journal reported last month.
The China-based ride-hailing company was worth $6 billion just last year.
Uber in February said it was losing $1 billion a year in China.
Along with the Uber/Alipay expansion comes an agreement to feature Uber more prominently on the Alipay app.
Alipay users can now find an Uber button on the front page of the payments app, making it easier to request rides and giving Uber another edge in its quest for world domination.