By Cyril Altmeyer
PARIS (Reuters) - Ingenico Group has signed a deal with Alipay, China's biggest online-payments platform, that will allow Chinese consumers to use the mobile payment app widely across Europe, the French company said on Thursday.
The agreement, signed on Wednesday, marks an opportunity for Alipay, a unit of Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba, to deepen its mobile-payment push into Europe.
"With this partnership, Aliplay will be embedded into Ingenico's in-store payment gateway," Ingenico said in a statement.
Alipay boasts over 450 million active users, while Ingenico processed more than 3.5 billion transaction in 2015. China's 10 million visitors to Europe in 2014 represented a total purchasing power of $21 billion, Ingenico said.
Jacques Behr, Ingenico's head of Europe and Africa, described the partnership as a "must have" but declined to quantify Ingenico's expected additional revenue.
"It's a bit like not offering air conditioning in a car. If you're a serious player in the world of payments you cannot say 'No, I won't do that, it doesn't interest me'."
Behr said he also expected Ingenico to benefit from Alipay's ambitions in Africa, where payments are frequently made on mobile platforms such as Kenya's M-pesa.
Ingenico already has a presence in China after buying terminal supplier Landi in 2008. A quarter of its staff is employed in China.
The next phase for Ingenico in China would be to focus on managing transactions made by Chinese traders using its terminals, Behr said.
In May 2015, the group sold a 20 percent stake in its holding company Ingenico Holdings Asia Ltd to Chinese investment fund Fosun in order to accelerate its growth strategy in the country.
In December, Alipay and Wirecard AG agreed to a deal to provide mobile phone payment services for Chinese tourists visiting Europe.
(Writing by Richard Lough; editing by Michel Rose and Subhranshu Sahu)