TORONTO _ Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba Group’s online payment platform AliPay will officially launch in Canada through a partnership with Canadian tech firm Snap Pay Inc.
Canadian retailers will be able to accept Chinese currency from Chinese shoppers starting this week.
AliPay North America president Souheil Badran says the company wants to offer Canadian merchants the opportunity to access the Chinese market.
He says more than 450 Canadian merchants already accept AliPay in an unofficial capacity.
But the partnership gives the payment platform an opportunity to aggressively explore opportunities for expansion in the education, winery, restaurant and retail sectors.
The company touts the increasingly lucrative role Chinese consumers could play for Canadian businesses, given the country’s growing middle class.
AliPay was launched in 2004 and has more than 450 million active users.
“We want to continue offering Chinese consumers visiting Canada the ability to pay as they would in China. But we also want to offer Canadian merchants the opportunity to access the Chinese market,” Badran said.
AliPay surpassed PayPal as the world’s largest mobile payment platform in 2013. It is the payments platform division of online commerce giant Alibaba, founded in 1999. The parent company operates online marketplaces and support services such as cloud computing, logistics and digital media.
The launch comes as Alibaba gears up to host heavy hitters including the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory at its Gateway ’17 Canada conference Monday in Toronto.
Prime Minister Justin Trudeau at the event urged Canadian small- and medium-sized businesses to look beyond Canada’s borders and explore the US$5 trillion opportunity in China.
Alibaba says 3,600 Canadian companies signed up to attend the event.
Alibaba is pitching Canadian businesses on accessing the growing middle class in China and the more than 460 million active consumers that use its e-commerce platform annually.
Alibaba hosted a similar U.S.-focused event in Detroit in June as it actively expands outside China.
Canadian brands already using Alibaba to sell to consumers and businesses in China include Aldo Shoes, Ocean Spray Cranberries and Clearwater Seafood.
Ma hosted Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Canadian business representatives at the company’s campus in Hangzhou, China last September.