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Ant Financial, parent company of Chinese mobile wallet giant Alipay, recently announced several initiatives to accelerate Alipay’s global merchant acceptance network expansion, as well as the launch of its own services.
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Building out both its services and Alipay’s network can allow Ant Financial to become more of a driving force in the Chinese digital payment space.
- Alipay is partnering with SnapPay, a cross-border payment gateway, to become a payment option at FoodyMart, a Chinese grocery store chain in Canada. The partnership enables Chinese users to pay in currencies they’re familiar with, while allowing merchants to receive payments in their respective currencies. Competitors have also been pushing into North America to enable their users to spend while traveling — even through the same types of partnerships: Last year, state-affiliated Chinese card network giant UnionPay partnered with Bank of China’s Canadian division to launch QR-code payments in Canada at Foodymart, for example. This SnapPay partnership can complement Alipay’s other efforts in its North America push: Alipay recently partnered with food tech startup ClickDishes to allow for order-ahead from within the Alipay app in Canada and expanded acceptance to all US Walgreens locations.
- Ant Financial launched a solution to streamline banks’ transition from transaction-oriented to consumer-oriented models. Ant Financial partnered with Hoperun Information Technology to launch the Distributed Core Banking Platform (DCPB), a banking product to allow financial institutions to transition their businesses to customer-centric banking models after piloting the service with several bank partners. The product’s purpose is to help firms better handle digital challenges, including distributed development, financial product management, and accounting liquidation.
- AlipayHK, Alipay’s Hong-Kong based mobile wallet, reached 2 million users and 50,000 merchants since its launch in the region a year ago, according toTechnode. Alipay also announced EasyGo, a new feature that enables users to pay for public transit by scanning a QR code. For context, the service reached 1.5 million users by June but was seemingly facing barriers to long-term success, as only 30% of respondents to an AlipayHK survey in July 2018 said they use mobile payments. As the firm builds out the service based on market-specific needs — it recently launcheda cross-border payment service to allow travelers from Hong Kong to use the mobile wallet in Japan and the Greater Bay Area — it will likely continue to onboard new users and gain momentum.
Alipay’s expansion can allow it capture more volume from Chinese tourists — 93% of whom would increase their spending if mobile payments were more widely available overseas — and cater to its massive global user base, which recently hit 1 billion users.
Alipay’s rapid product and market expansion efforts have been proving successful so far: Chinese tourists paid for 32% of transactions overseas with their phones in 2018, overtaking cash for the first time overseas, which can likely be attributed to the widening availability of mobile payments in popular tourist destinations. And pushing into various markets and areas of financial services can position Alipay more competitively against its rivals, like WeChat Pay, which are also aggressively expanding their global networks.
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