Fintech payments startup unicorn Stripe is targeting China with WeChat Pay and Alipay tie-up (and its trillion dollar-spending mobile shoppers)

The unicorn payments startup founded by two Irish brothers, Stripe, is tapping up the potentially lucrative mobile payments market in China, adding support for WeChat Pay and AliPay in a new tie-up.

Online businesses which use Stripe’s payments technology will now be able to accept payment via the hugely popular digital wallets, which work in a similar way to Apple Pay and between them process trillions of dollars worth of payments every year.

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“By deepening our existing partnership with Alipay, and launching a new partnership with WeChat Pay, we’re enabling businesses to easily access the once-impenetrable Chinese market, and in the manner Chinese consumers prefer,” said Stripe president and co-founder John Collison.

Stripe is used by the likes of Target, Under Armour and Lyft to power their e-commerce and has raised millions from top Silicon Valley investors which values the startup, founded in 2010, at more than $1bn.

It is also opening an office in Hong Kong to serve the wider Asian market, adding to its 13 existing locations around the world.

Paying by mobile in China hit $5.5 trillion (£4.3 trillion) last year, with Alibaba offshoot Ant Financial’s Alipay and Tencent’s WeChat Pay dominating, according to iResearch. It is considered the most forward region in the world in terms of mobile and digital payments. Stripe estimates a quarter of China’s more than one billion population will be buying from websites outside of the country, directly or via a third party, by 2020.

Alipay has been expanding its footprint in Europe in recent months. Several tie-ups with retailers and banks to accept the mobile payment favoured by customers from China have been agreed. That includes France’s BNP Paribas, Barclays in the UK and UnicCredit in Italy and retailers in the UK such as Harrods and the Body Shop.

Such deals, including the one with Stripe, mean China’s shoppers will spend even more using Alipay and WeChat Pay, while retailers can increase sales with access to them. Stripe takes a cut of these transactions.

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“In our aim to get to a global cashless society, Alipay has evolved from a digital wallet into a global lifestyle enabler for Chinese consumers and travelers far beyond Chinese borders,” said Alipay North America president Souheil Badran.

“We’re excited to strengthen our partnership with Stripe to connect globally-minded Chinese consumers with hundreds of thousands of Stripe-powered businesses around the world.”