China's high spending tourists are reaching some of the most remote parts of Europe – evidenced by the fact that the Chinese payment platform Alipay gained acceptance at over 100 shops, restaurants and hotels in the northern Finnish city of Rovaniemi within a month.

Rovaniemi, capital of the northern Finnish province of Lapland and famous for its Santa Claus village, a tourist attraction, is also the location Alipay chose to launch its shopping festival 12.12, which gives discounts to Chinese shoppers between December 9-12 across 70,000 merchants across 16 countries globally.

The launch ceremony, held in Santa Claus village on Tuesday, was attended by Rovaniemi mayor Esko Lotvonen, some of Alipay's local merchants partners and some Chinese tourists.

Lotvonen said the Alipay's choice to launch the festival there was a sign of the friendship between China and Finland and he hopes to welcome more Chinese tourists.

Alipay is the payment arm of Chinese fintech firm Ant Financial, itself an affiliate firm of internet giant Alibaba. With 450 million users in China, Alipay is now fast expanding internationally, offering tourists with easy and secure payment support.

Now in its third year, 12.12 is a shopping festival that Alipay has created to encourage more shopping, similar to the 11.11 singles day shopping festival.

Whereas 11.11 focuses on online shopping, 12.12 offers are only available when making purchases offline, in stores, restaurants and hotels.

In Finland Alipay collaborates with mobile payment provider ePassi, which already works with about 10,000 merchants in Finland. When Chinese shoppers pay with Alipay, Finnish merchants will receive money into their ePassi wallets within seconds. "Traditionally Chinese travellers to Finland encounter two challenges: firstly tourist information is not extensively available in Chinese and secondly they often need to carry lots of cash on their travels, Alipay's entry into Finland solves both challenges," said Alexander Yin, chief financial officer of TCG, parent company of ePassi.

Alipay offers payment convenience, and its app also provides practical information about its partner merchants in Finland, helping these merchants to more effectively attract Chinese tourists.

Yin said ePassi's reputation in Finland helps it persuade merchants about Alipay's security, while the fact ePassi already owns a payment institution license from Finnish regulators means Alipay's entrance into Finland require no additional licence.

Alipay is being embraced by Finish merchants.

"We are so glad to add Alipay as a new payment method, after having this request from Chinese shoppers for so long," said Tanja Keisu-Makinen, Helsinki Airport store manager of Finnish watchmaker Lindroos.

"We've already had some Alipay transactions in store even though we've just launched it for a week," added Tina Jokinen, Helsinki Airport store manager of the local glassworks manufacturer Iittala. Alipay was used by 120 million users overseas last year. It also collaborates with Germany's Wirecard and France's Ingenico, in a similar way to its links with ePassi in Finland.

"Alipay gives me so much convenience and is very easy to use," said Cao Binjie, 27, a tourist from Guangzhou who used Alipay to buy a deer-skin mat, magnets and postcards from the Santa Claus village souvenir shop. Cao's views are echoed by Xu Lei, a 33-year-old tourist from Shanghai, who used Alipay to buy an Arctic Circle visit certificate from the Santa Claus village tourism office. "When I saw Alipay there, I was so surprised and impressed by Alipay's global expansion. Using Alipay overseas is great, although I would only use it in big reputable shops as I don't feel secure using mobile payment in small shops."

Editor: Zeng Yunheng