SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- A Chinese digital payment platform called Alipay and Pier 39 announced that they've formed a partnership to create a seamless payment experience for Chinese travelers.
China is San Francisco's top overseas market. Most Chinese visitors use Alipay for purchases and other expenses. So, for most businesses at Pier 39, it was a no-brainer to start accepting Alipay. Today it's more popular than PayPal or ApplePay
Chinese tourists spend more money in San Francisco than visitors from an other country --$1.4 billion dollars in 2017.
That information comes from the San Francisco Travel Association. They also predict by that 2020, one in every four visitor-dollars spent in San Francisco will come from a Chinese visitor.
But Chinese tourists have never had a love affair with credit cards like Americans do. Chinese visitors use cash or more recently "Alipay," which is the world's largest mobile payment platform.
Bob Partrite of Fog Harbor Fish House explained how it works.
"Once the guest is ready to check out, the server would open the app on the device, enter the dollar amount of the check and hit pay," said Partrite who sees the benefits of Alipay.
After the guest leaves a tip, he or she opens up the app on their phone and brings up a QR code which is scanned. The receipt is immediately printed, taking a lot less time that a credit card transaction.
"So when they're finishing their meal and they are paying and leaving, they get to leave on a high note because they are using something that they are very comfortable with it and trust it, " said Partrite, who is the chief operating officer of three restaurants and a coffee shop at Pier 39.
A trusted site is exactly what tourists from China are looking for.
According to a Nielsen consumer report posted last February, more than 90 percent of Chinese tourists interviewed said they might buy more goods or services at overseas merchants if they accepted Alipay.
That was enough to convince the majority of the businesses at Pier 39.
"We're just trying to capitalize on what's come and this market is burgeoning, it's going to be booming," said Taylor Safford, President and CEO of Pier 39.
Another plus for businesses is that the app has a search and discover tool to help the user find establishments that take "Alipay."
To open an account with Alipay, a person must have an account with a Chinese bank and have a China-based phone number.
Alipay, Pier 39 to create seamless payment experience for Chinese travelers