Chinese investors and companies will soon be able to conduct transactions through the Alipay system in Laos.
The Lao Development Bank (LDB) entered into an agreement with KIWI Company Limited last week to roll out the service.
KIWI – established by French, Belgian and Laotian entrepreneurs in 2016 – is a leading fintech operator in Southeast Asia and provides cashless payment solutions for its clients.
According to a banking official, the two parties began a pilot project two months ago after getting permission from the Bank of the Lao PDR, and encouraged shops and businesses to participate in the venture.
The official said enterprises or entrepreneurs that partnered with the bank include coffee shops, minimarts and stores at the Sanjiang market in Vientiane, where a lot of Chinese nationals live and run businesses.
Chinese nationals can now use the Alipay application to pay visa fees on arrival at the Boten International Checkpoint in Luang Namtha province, which borders Yunnan province in China, and at the 4th Friendship Bridge International Checkpoint in Bokeo province.
The contract was signed by representatives of the two business partners. The signing was witnessed by LDB managing director Akham Praseuth and the KIWI chairman Gregory Schmidt.
Alipay is one of the most widely used online payment apps in China.
Promoting Lao currency
The official said those who want to use this service need to register in China, and the bank in Laos will provide facilities for transaction services only.
One reason for providing the service in Laos is to facilitate transactions, especially by Chinese nationals living in Laos, by using the Alipay app through the QR code.
This includes payments such as visa fees at international checkpoints in Laos. It also aims to promote the use of the Lao currency and reduce cash payments in line with government policy.
The use of the app is also an important step for modernising banking services.
The Lao Development Bank was established on April 9, 2003, by merging the state-owned commercial banks Lane Xang Bank Ltd and Lao May Bank Ltd.
The key objectives of the merger were to improve and strengthen the overall operations of the bank, including the development and implementation of new operational policies and procedures, building capable and commercially experienced management and staff who are motivated and properly trained, strengthening governance and organisation structures, implementation of a set of plans to attain financial targets, demonstrating measurable and significant improvements in the financial soundness of the bank, achieving customer satisfaction and meeting the operational targets of the bank, and contributing to the government’s socioeconomic development targets, according to the bank’s website.
Besides the Alipay app, the bank has various services such as digital banking services to facilitate tax payments, including road tax.
Last April, another financial service provider, Kasikorn Thai Bank (KBank), partnered with Lao Telecom to launch the QR KBank payment system.
This e-wallet service is a cashless payment system. Users, shops and traders can make payments or money transfers through this app by using the QR code.
KBank expects to increase the number of users of the QR KBank app to 120,000, up from 1,500 people last year.
The Bank of the Lao PDR authorised KBank to expand the use of the payment system throughout Vientiane after it ran a successful pilot project at Khuadin market, including money transfers by QR code users. VIENTIANE TIMES