Chinese tourists visiting Spain will be able to shop at Spanish stores using their Alipay mobile wallets through an agreement between BBVA Group and Ant Financial Services, the Alibaba affiliate that operates Alipay.

BBVA is the first Spanish bank to work with Ant Financial. Earlier this month, Ant secured an agreement with OTT Financial to bring Alipay payments into Canada. That deal came a month after Alipay and First Data partnered to bring the mobile wallet into the U.S. market with First Data merchants.

"This agreement is a great opportunity to service this growing market of visitors in Spain while allowing Spanish stores to promote sales and special offers directly to Chinese tourists," Jose Fernandez da Ponte, head of business development and new ventures at BBVA, said in a June 28 press release.

Bloomberg News

BBVA says approximately 400,000 Chinese tourists visit Spain each year, acknowledging that even though it is not the largest group of foreign visitors, the Chinese are generally the highest spenders in countries they visit.

"Chinese users have been enjoying a cashless and cardless lifestyle with Alipay in their daily life in China," Rita Liu, head of Alipay for Europe, Middle East and Africa, said in the release. "Cooperating with BBVA not only allows us to make Chinese tourists' shopping experience in Spain as simple as in China, but also makes it easier for Spanish merchants to do business with Chinese customers."

BBVA will integrate Alipay into the bank's Smartpay mobile payment service. Stores already accepting Smartpay simply need to update the Smartpay app to be able to accept Alipay payments.

Alipay operates through QR-code technology, and the option to pay through the BBVA Smartpay app is currently available only for consumers using Android phones.

BBVA's own cloud-based mobile wallet, Smartpay, has been in operation since 2013 and debuted in the U.S. in 2015. The app operates through Host Card Emulation on compatible handsets, and works on Apple and Android devices.

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