New payment app allows Chinese tourists to ditch cash at Paris department stores

From now on Chinese tourists visiting Paris won't have to carry as much cash around the French capital with two of the city's most famous department stores now allowing customers to pay for items using an online app.

New payment app allows Chinese tourists to ditch cash at Paris department stores
File photo of tourists outside Galeries Lafayette. Photo: AFP
Chinese tourists visiting Paris are now able to pay for their purchases in two of the city's department stores with their smartphones, thanks the adoption of the payment app of the popular Chinese social media network, WeChat.
The Galeries Lafayette group said Wednesday that shoppers at its flagship Galeries Lafayette Haussmann and BHV Marais stores could now check out with WeChat Pay.
Well-heeled Chinese tourists have become targets for thieves, who know they often carry around huge bundles of cash, which up until now they have used to pay for their goods at the city's department stores.
But now they may no longer need to run the risk of carrying out wads of money because they can use a feature integrated into Tencent-owned WeChat, which had more than 938 million active monthly users earlier this year, allowing payment via a linked bank card.
The service, available to Chinese merchants since 2014, has been expanding internationally since 2016.
Photo: AFP   
Paris is a major draw for Chinese tourists, where surveys show they are top spenders.
The Galeries Lafayette group said its shops welcome 15 million foreign visitors per year and wanted to provide “its Chinese customers with a familiar, convenient and secure payment environment … directly on their smartphone.”
Another Parisian department store, Printemps, has opted for the rival Chinese payment service Alipay.


Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

Car, moped, public transport, or electric bicycle - which means of transport is the quickest way to get across Paris?

Revealed: The fastest way to get across Paris

One intrepid reporter for French daily Le Parisien decided to find out. 

The challenge was simple. Which mode of transport would get the journalist from the heart of Fontenay-sous-Bois in the eastern suburbs to the newspaper’s office on Boulevard de Grenelle, west Paris, fastest?

Over four separate journeys, each one in the middle of rush hour, the electric bicycle was quickest and easiest. More expensive than conventional bikes, electric bikes do come with a government subsidy.

The journey was described as ‘pleasant and touristy’ on a dry but chilly morning going via dedicated cycle lanes that meant the dogged journalist avoided having to weave in and out of traffic.

It took, in total, 47 minutes from start to finish at an average speed of 19km/h, on a trip described as “comfortable” but with a caveat for bad weather. The cost was a few centimes for charging up the bike.

In comparison, a car journey between the same points took 1 hour 27 minutes – a journey not helped by a broken-down vehicle. Even accounting for that, according to the reporter’s traffic app, the journey should – going via part of the capital’s southern ringroad – have taken about 1 hr 12.

Average speed in the car was 15km/h, and it cost about €2.85 in diesel – plus parking.

A “chaotic and stressful” moped trip took 1 hour 3 minutes, and cost €1.30 in unleaded petrol.

Public transport – the RER and Metro combined via RER A to Charles-de-Gaulle-Étoile then Metro line 6 to the station Bir-Hakeim – took 50 minutes door to door, including a 10-minute walk and cost €2.80. The journey was described as “tiring”.

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