Lonely Planet Writer

Finland becomes a cashless destination for Chinese travellers

Chinese travellers to Finland won’t have to worry about bringing cash or credit cards with them, as it has become the first country to offer them a fully cashless experience during their visit. Alipay is a mobile-payments platform that is already ubiquitous in China with 450 million users and now it can be used all over Finland, meaning visitors can pay for everything during their trip by using their smartphone.

Alipay has 450 million users in China. Image: Alipay

Finland attracts more than 550,000 Chinese tourists annually, and the country is often their first stop on a European visit. As a result of the new development, major Chinese tour operators are looking at the country as a growth destination. To show how the new cashless method will work, Alipay recently took eight users of the service to Helsinki and Rovaniemi in the Arctic Circle for six days. The travellers were able to use the app for everything they needed, including food, taxi rides and duty free refunds.

Aurora Borealis over a track through winter landscape in Finnish Lapland. Image: Sara Winter/Getty Images

The average Chinese visitor to Finland spends €650, but this could be even higher now they can use their smartphone since most do not use Western credit cards. The company is hoping to bring the cashless experience to Europe and other regions, so that Chinese consumers can travel with just their mobile phone, like they do at home.

The service also provides tips and advice on shopping in Finland, making it easier for users to find shops and restaurants and opens up a new marketing channel for retailers. It will be able to promote Finnish shops through the app and help tourists discover what they might want to buy before they start their trip.

Bank of Lake Simpele in Parikala on midsummer's eve, Finland.
The bank of Lake Simpele in Parikala, Finland. Image by Dylan Fogarty-MacDonald/Getty Images

The new app is a collaboration with Finnish company ePassi. They already has a presence in Germany and Sweden, and it is believed the next logical step for the service is to expand across its existing markets before launching elsewhere in Europe.