Solaire Resort and Casino in Manila, and Asia United Bank (AUB), have linked up so that patrons of Solaire can use the Chinese electronic payment services Alipay and WeChat Pay, reports the Manila Bulletin. The newspaper said on Friday that Solaire had signed up with AUB to offer Chinese and other customers at the resort what it said was a fast, secure, and convenient way to pay for their food, lodging, shopping and entertainment using the AUB PayMate application for mobile phones.
The app allows merchants in the Philippines to accept payments for various goods and services through Alipay and WeChat Pay.
“The strategic partnership with AUB is consistent with our mission to deliver better service by offering our Chinese guests a safe and efficient online, cross-border platform for their payments,” the Manila Bulletin quoted Solaire Resort and Casino senior vice-president for resort operations Rajesh Jhingon as saying.
Official data indicate that the number of Chinese visiting the Philippines is rising rapidly, reinforcing the prediction that 1.5 million will visit this year, the newspaper said.
The report quoted AUB president Manuel Gomez as saying: “We are excited to partner with Solaire Resort, as they [the operator] are poised to benefit from the astounding growth in Chinese tourist arrivals, well above the curve of tourism growth in the region as well as around the world. This comes with untapped opportunities for businesses, big or small, to cater to this specific market with a safe, new payment channel that provides both speed and convenience.”
Solaire was the first casino-resort opened in Manila’s government-supported tourism economic development zone Entertainment City. Solaire has 800 hotel rooms and suites, villas near the Manila Bay shoreline, restaurants, bars, shops, meeting facilities and a theatre.
Philippines-based casino investor Bloomberry Resorts Corp developed and operates Solaire. It also runs the Jeju Sun Hotel and Casino, a foreigner-only casino complex on South Korea’s southern holiday island of Jeju. Bloomberry reported its second-quarter profit declined by 16.7 percent year-on-year, to nearly PHP1.64 billion (US$30.9 million), compared to PHP1.97 billion in the same period 12 months earlier. The firm said the downturn was partially related to a shrinking in casino revenue in its operations in South Korea.
Instant payment services have made inroads in a number of regional tourism markets popular with mainland Chinese visitors. Late last year, restaurants and shops at Macau Fisherman’s Wharf began accepting cashless payments made through Alipay, as well as the Macau Pass stored-value card and its e-wallet application MacauPay. Macau Fisherman’s Wharf sits on the city’s waterside and features a standalone casino, a casino hotel and other accommodation options. Customers cannot use Alipay for casino or other gaming transactions.
Likewise in 2016 in Singapore, Resorts World Sentosa began accepting Alipay for dozens of attractions outside the property’s casino. Alipay on-site payment terminals were made available at “more than 110 locations around Resorts World Sentosa” according to the press release issued jointly by Resorts World Sentosa and Alipay. The casino resort was built and is operated by Genting Singapore Plc, a subsidiary of Malaysian conglomerate Genting Bhd.
Sands China Ltd was the first Macau casino resort operator to accept WeChat Pay payments, namely for hotel room bookings, from May 2016. Sands China estimates mobile contactless payments at its properties could top MOP3 billion (US$370.3 million) this year.
Rival casino operator Galaxy Entertainment Group Ltd announced last November that the WeChat payment platform would be made available at its Galaxy Macau, Broadway Macau and StarWorld Hotel properties, in a partnership with Industrial and Commercial Bank of China (Macau) Ltd.
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