Two ranking members of the local House of Representatives welcomed the idea of the CNMI being able to take advantage of the growing popularity of third-party payment tools, especially for the Chinese tourist market.
Reps. Ivan A. Blanco (R-Saipan) and Joseph P. Deleon Guerrero (R-Saipan) see the potential of mobile payment systems such as Alipay and WeChat Pay being used by restaurants, shops, and other business establishments that cater to foreign tourists.
Affinity Solutions Inc. representatives Todd Jakl, Tina Tudela, and Robert Canos met with Blanco, Deleon Guerrero, and eight other House members to learn more about the service offered by the Guam-based marketing firm.
AFI is looking to further widen the scope of Alipay and WeChat Pay in the CNMI. Alipay and WeChat Pay are two mobile and online payment platforms in China. WeChat Pay is considered the leading payment system being used by more than 600 million.
Reps. Alice S. Igitol (R-Saipan), Francisco C. Aguon (R-Saipan), Blas Jonathan T. Attao (Ind-Saipan), Donald C. Barcinas (R-Saipan), Lorenzo I. Deleon Guerrero (Ind-Saipan), Angel A. Demapan (R-Saipan), John Paul P. Sablan (R-Saipan), and Edmund S. Villagomez (Ind-Saipan) were also in the meeting.
Blanco, who is the House Commerce and Tourism Committee vice chair, told Saipan Tribune that this has been a growing trend in the growing Chinese outbound tourists who now prefer to use credit cards or other payment schemes rather than cash.
“This is an opportunity to encourage visitor spending in the CNMI,” said Blanco, who presided over the meeting on behalf of committee chair Joseph Leepan T. Guerrero (R-Saipan) who had to attend to prior commitments.
“Through these online payment portals, Chinese tourists find it easier to spend and purchase locally rather than carrying cash or credit cards,” he added.
Blanco cited a study made by Chinese English language newspaper China Daily/Asia Weekly that a large part of Chinese income earners prefer to use third-party payment tools.
“According to China Daily/Asia Weekly, 87.4 percent of Chinese income earners prefer using Alipay, WeChat Pay, and other third-party payment tools as their method of payment. They also see an ever-increasing use of these methods in the leisure and travel sector,” said Blanco.
“House Commerce and Tourism chair Leepan [Guerrero] sees this as an opportunity for our local vendors to capitalize on these payment methods and capture more visitor dollars. As we all know, increased spending..supports our tax base,” he added.
Deleon Guerrero, who is one of the senior members of the House, told Saipan Tribune that the new payment system could prevent abuse and other fraudulent transactions. “This is very popular in China. The good thing is, it can be tracked because it funnels the revenues to U.S. banks. So, I support this kind of system.”