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Alibaba’s headquarters on the outskirts of Hangzhou, Zhejiang province.

Chance Chan/Reuters

Chinese online payment platform Alipay has partnered with tech firm SnapPay Inc. to enable Canadian retailers to accept Chinese currency from Chinese shoppers through a mobile wallet.

Alipay North America president Souheil Badran says the company wants to offer Canadian merchants the opportunity to access the Chinese market.

He says 700 Canadian merchants already accept Alipay.

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But the partnership gives the payment platform an opportunity to aggressively explore opportunities for expansion in the education, winery, restaurant and retail sectors.

The company touts the increasingly lucrative role Chinese consumers could play for Canadian businesses, given the country's growing middle class.

Alipay, originally created by Chinese online shopping giant Alibaba.com, was launched in 2004 and has more than 520 million active users. It is now owned by Ant Financial Services Group, a "related company" to Alibaba.

"We want to continue offering Chinese consumers visiting Canada the ability to pay as they would in China. But we also want to offer Canadian merchants the opportunity to access the Chinese market," Badran said.

The launch comes as Alibaba gears up to host heavy hitters including the Prime Minister Justin Trudeau, Ontario Premier Kathleen Wynne and Toronto Mayor John Tory at its Gateway '17 Canada conference Monday in Toronto.

Trudeau will take the stage with Alibaba executive chairman and founder Jack Ma at the conference aimed at promoting e-commerce opportunities for Canadian businesses in China.

Ma hosted Trudeau, Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland and Canadian business representatives at the company's campus in Hangzhou, China last September.

Editor’s note: An earlier version of this story based on erroneous information from a press release said that Chinese online payment platform Alipay was owned by Alibaba. In fact, it is owned by Ant Financial Services Group, a “related company” to Alibaba.
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