• An Alipay user pays through a bar code scanned from his mobile phone.

An Alipay user pays through a bar code scanned from his mobile phone. (Photo : Getty Images)

Alibaba's Ant Financial Services Group continues with its efforts to raise Alipay's presence worldwide as it announced on Tuesday, Dec. 6, its collaboration with three banks and a payments company in Europe in a bid to expand its operations in the region.

The Wall Street Journal reported that London-based Barclays PLC, France's BNP Paribas SA, Italy's UniCredit SpA and Swiss firm SIX Payment Services have agreed to work with Ant Financial, enabling it to increase the number of European merchants that accept payments made through Alipay online-payments platform.

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The move came as the Internet finance company is pushing to expand its operations worldwide, with the aim to set a payments platform to rival Mastercard Inc and Visa Inc.

According to data from market research firm iResearch, Alipay, which has more than 450 million users, handled nearly half of the estimated $738 billion online payments made by Chinese consumers last year. Alipay accounts are linked to users' bank accounts which they can use to pay taxi fares, buy movie tickets, book hotels and pay mutual funds.

Alibaba said in June that Alipay has processed an average of about 153 million online transactions daily, in the first quarter, which is almost 10 times more than PayPal Holdings Inc., nearly as many as Mastercard and around 60 percent of the volume of Visa, the industry leader.

Its partnership with European financial institutions has placed Alipay closer to its goal of being accepted by one million users in three years.

Ant Financial said that as of September, Alipay was used by consumers at nearly 100,000 overseas merchants in 70 countries. In Europe, merchants scan bar codes when Alipay users pay, similar to the process done in in-store payments in China.

Alibaba's financial affiliate is looking into the potential revenue from the growth of Chinese outbound travel, which continues to expand overseas. The World Travel & Tourism Council said that Chinese tourists spent about $215 billion abroad last year, an increase of 14 percent from 2014.

Alipay's new partnership is an addition to existing partnerships with French and German payments companies that include Ingenico Group SA and Concardis GmbH, and Frankfurt airport retailer Tripidi in Europe.

The financial affiliate has also expanded Alipay's operation in Asia and in the U.S. Last month, it launched an investment in the online payments arm of Thai conglomerate Charoen Pokphand Group. In the U.S., the company is working with First Data Corp. and VeriFone Systems Inc.