WeChat Pay available at European airport retailers

WeChat Pay, a popular mobile payment method among Chinese consumers, will be available in several European airport retail destinations, as part of the travel retail industry’s attempts to appeal to large visitor numbers from China.

Lagardère Travel Retail, which operates retail, foodservice, and duty-free premises at airports around the globe, has first launched the payment service in Terminal 1 of Charles De Gaulle Airport in Paris.

Timed to coincide with Chinese New Year, a popular period for travel among Chinese consumers, shops operated by Société de Distribution Aéroportuaire – a joint-venture by Lagardère Travel Retail and French airport operator Groupe ADP – will be the first to accept WeChat Pay. It will be launched in additional airports in due course.
WeChat Pay is a smartphone-based payment service and has around 600 million active users. It is integrated into internet group Tencent's WeChat app, which is the most popular social network in China with nearly one billion users.

To make a payment users scan QR codes generated within their WeChat mobile wallet stored on their smartphones.
Travel retail is often perceived to be behind the times in terms of digital transformation when compared with the wider retail sector, but there are a number of new services being rolled out. Lagardère Travel Retail is one of several airport shopping companies to launch click & collect, enabling passengers to order products online and pick them up as they travel through the terminal.

And as the travel industry looks to cater for international travellers in ways they are familiar with from their home countries, there is set to be further innovation in the space.

Last week, for example, tax-free shopping company Global Blue announced it has teamed up with Tencent at Madrid Airport to allow WeChat Pay users to receive their tax refund digitally. For the first time, consumers can receive instant tax refunds into their WeChat Pay Wallet, once their tax-free forms have been validated by customs officials.