Sunday, April 23, 2017
China to Develop World's First Cash-Free Airport
By Monica Poling
Hangzhou International Airport plans to be the first cashless airport in the world.
Whoever said, “cash is king,” should probably remove China’s Yangtze River Delta region from their travel wish list. Hangzhou International Airport, one of the major airports to serve the region, has just announced it plans to become the world’s first “cashless airport.”
According to the Global Times, via Chinese-language publication ThePaper.cn, the airport plans to partner with leading providers such as AllPay so travelers can make cashless payments for all airport services.
While the new system will allow users to pay for food, beverage and sundries using mobile pay, the airport is also planning on developing a larger infrastructure which will allow travelers to book hotels, tickets, transportation, parking and shopping all from one online system.
In tandem with the new mobile pay systems, the airport is also planning to significantly upgrade its artificial intelligence (AI) interfaces, particularly at security checkpoints. Among the planned upgrades will be new image recognition features which the airport says will increase efficiency while also decreasing wait times.
The transition to a 100 percent mobile-pay facility is a natural fit for Hangzhou International Airport since online payment giant Alibaba Group Holding is based in Hangzhou.
“Online payment already has a particularly high level of penetration in Hangzhou,” said Global News.
In separate but related news, The Shanghai Daily has also recently reported that Ant Financial, the financial arm for Alibaba, is planning to spend nearly a billion dollars over the next two years to help develop a global cashless society.
Ant Financial has said it wants to create a network of 30 million merchants in 100 nations that accept mobile pay. It plans to use the bulk of the earmarked dollars on promoting and marketing those members. One of the early partners of this program is the United Nations Environment Program’s China Office, which says it applauds the environmentally friendly concept of a cashless society.
Hangzhou International Airport serves more than 30 million passengers a year, making it the tenth-busiest airport in China and among the top 100 in the world. It is served by more than 60 domestic and international carriers who connect with 94 domestic destinations and 37 international ones.