Ride-hailing app Uber expanded its partnership with e-commerce giant Alibaba’s online payment platform to allow Chinese passengers to pay for rides outside of China in yuan using their Alipay accounts.
The move, which eliminates the need for currency conversion for its Chinese customers, comes after rival Didi Kuaidi tied up with Lyft last month to make it easier for Chinese travelers in the US to book rides.
Alipay, part of Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services, dominates the country’s e-payments market, with 450 million active users.
Outside of China, Uber operates in more than 400 cities in 69 countries. Uber customers have been able to pay using Alipay in mainland China since 2014, and Hong Kong, Taiwan and Macau since early 2016.
Uber’s biggest competitor in China is Didi, the country’s most popular taxi-hailing service, which has forged alliances with many of its rivals.
In December four ride-hailing services — Didi, US-based Lyft, India’s Ola and Southeast Asia’s GrabTaxi – agreed to partner to scale up their services to compete against Uber. Users of each app will be able to book transportation in each other’s region. Each company will handle “mapping, routing and payments through a secure API” in the countries they serve.
Uber is pushing aggressively ahead in Asia, announcing expansion plans last month in Indonesia and India, in the face of regulatory setbacks and rising competition.