Alipay builds travel guide into mobile payments app

Alipay launches in-app guide for Germany’s Oktoberfest — Alizila — “Alipay said Friday it launched an in-app travel guide in Chinese for visitors to Munich’s Oktoberfest celebration and the city’s 211-year-old downtown Viktualienmarkt… The pilot service will offer ‘a wealth of information on the culture and history of both venues,’ including a map, a guide to individual stalls and products, information on German behavioural norms, like how to toast with a glass of beer and advice on when and where it’s OK to take photos. Users can also pay for what they buy through the Alipay app.”


Berkshire Hathaway invests in Indian mobile payments provider Paytm

Berkshire Hathaway confirms investment in Paytm parent One97 Communications — Economic Times — “Berkshire Hathaway has confirmed that it has made an investment in Paytm parent One97 Communications… ET had reported that Berkshire Hathaway is in talks to invest about Rs2,000-2,500 crore (US$285m-US$356m) in One97 Communications, that could value the company at $10bn. One97 Communications already counts China’s Alibaba Group Holdings and Japan’s Softbank among its major investors.”



Marriott to let Chinese guests use face recognition to check in to its hotels

Joint venture of Alibaba Group and Marriott International trials facial recognition check-in technology — Marriott International — “The pilot will kick off from July 2018 at two Marriott International properties in China — Hangzhou Marriott Hotel Qianjiang and Sanya Marriott Hotel Dadonghai Bay, with the goal of global rollout across Marriott International’s properties in the future… Chinese guests simply need to scan their IDs, take a photo and input contact details on a self-help machine. The intelligent device will then dispense room key cards after identities and booking information are verified.”



Chinese consumers have now deposited $150bn with Alipay and Tencent

PBOC to raise reserve funds ratio for third-party payment firms to 100% — Caixin — “The two largest third-party payment firms, Alipay and Tenpay, combined hold nearly 1tn yuan (US$151bn) of customers’ funds, about 90% of the total reserve funds… Reserve funds are prepayments from online shoppers held temporarily by payment companies that can then earn income on the cash by depositing it in banks or even buying government bonds… The requirement means payment firms such as Alibaba Group Holding Ltd backed Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd’s Tenpay can no longer invest money deposited by their respective clients.”


Japanese airline ANA to enter mobile payments market

Japan airline ANA aims to build digital payments business — Financial Times — “The plan is part of a broader digital push by ANA, which hopes to build on data collected from the 31m users of its airline miles to provide a range of services including real estate, insurance and health to consumers across Japan… ‘We are aiming for ANA’s version of Alibaba’s Alipay,’ Shinya Katanozaka, ANA’s chief executive, said in an interview.”


Ant Financial seeks US$9bn in new funding

Jack Ma’s Ant Financial to raise $9bn, become world’s biggest unicorn — Wall Street Journal — “Chinese billionaire Jack Ma’s financial technology business is about to vault into the ranks of the world’s most valuable companies. Ant Financial Services Group, carved out of his e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd seven years ago, is preparing to raise US$9bn in a private funding round, according to people familiar with the matter. That ups a previous fundraising target of US$5bn.”


China goes live with QR payments spending cap

China caps store mobile payments at $80 — Nikkei Asian Review — “The People’s Bank of China, the country’s central bank, implemented the caps on Sunday for different types of QR code payments, based on relative risk. For payments made by scanning a printed QR code displayed by the seller, the daily limit is set at 500 yuan (about US$80)… Such popular services as Alibaba Group Holding’s Alipay and Tencent Holdings’ WeChat Pay are affected.”


Vehicle vending machine lets drivers book, pay and drive away a test car from their mobile phone

Ford, Alibaba roll out test-drive services via ‘auto vending machine’ — China Automotive News — “Users can book a test drive via the Alibaba’s Taobao mobile app or the Tmall platform. Entering a key word of ‘super test drive’, users can follow the instructions from the interface to select the vehicles they want and the time to have the test drive. To schedule a test drive, users should submit their basic information and upload their selfies on the platform. Besides, they need to pay some test drive fees and the money for vehicle purchasing intention. After all these done, consumers can pick up their test vehicle via a facial recognition at the ‘super test drive center’ in Guangzhou to enjoy a three-day ride.”



Alipay parent Ant Financial to go public at a $100bn valuation?

China’s Ant plans equity fundraising at potential $100 billion valuation — Reuters — “China’s Ant Financial Services Group is planning to raise up to US$5bn (£3.59bn) in fresh equity that could value the online payments giant at more than US$100bn… A fundraising would bring Ant, in which e-commerce firm Alibaba Group Holding Ltd is taking a one-third stake, a step closer to a hotly anticipated initial public offering.”


Apple to accept Alipay mobile payments at its stores in China

Apple brings Alibaba-linked payment system into China stores amid market push — Reuters — “The tie-up will make Alipay, run by Alibaba affiliate Ant Financial, the first third-party mobile payment system to be accepted at any physical Apple store worldwide… The Cupertino-based firm will accept Alipay payment across its 41 brick-and-mortar retail stores in China.”


Chinese mobile payment platforms are now used by 527m people

China’s mobile payment users hit 527 million in 2017 — ECNS — “China had a total of 527m mobile payment users at the end of last year, up by 57.8m from a year before… WeChat Pay, one of China’s major mobile payment service providers, attracted over 800m validated users by September 2017. The number of monthly offline payments was 280% higher than that from a year ago… Alipay, the online payment platform under ecommerce giant Alibaba, launched in 36 overseas destinations, benefiting hundreds of thousands of merchants. Overseas transactions surged by 306% in the last year when compared with 2016.”


Alibaba takes 33% stake in Alipay operator Ant Financial

Alibaba agrees to 33% stake in Ant Financial — Alibaba — “An equity stake in Ant Financial will bring key strategic benefits to Alibaba, including advancing its New Retail strategy with mobile payments, increasing user acquisition and retention through collaboration with the Alipay digital wallet (“Alipay Wallet”), and enhancing the execution of the international expansion… Upon closing, the companies will terminate the current profit-sharing arrangement under which Ant Financial pays royalty and technology service fees in an amount equal to 37.5% of its pre-tax profits to Alibaba.”



Alipay reports mobile payments adoption stats

Mobile devices handle some 80% of Alipay’s online payments in 2017 — ECNS — “New data from Alipay show 82% of the transactions on its platform in 2017 were made through mobile devices, mostly smart phones. This ratio is said to be an all-time high… There were 520m Alipay users in China, or around 37% of the country’s population, in 2017… More than 40m small retailers across China, according to Alipay, established their own quick response codes in 2017… Bus and subway networks in more than 30 Chinese cities began allowing passengers to pay fares via Alipay through 2017.”


Honda to let drivers use Alipay to make payments from cars

Honda to team up with Alibaba in connected cars — Nikkei Asian Review — “The Japanese automaker will work with the Chinese e-retailing titan’s AutoNavi business. They plan to develop a service that lets drivers make reservations using AutoNavi maps and make payments via Alibaba’s online platform Alipay. Decisions will be made soon on when to make the service available on which vehicles.”


China UnionPay launches mobile wallet app

UnionPay takes mobile payment services fight to Alibaba and Tencent with integrated app — South China Morning Post — “UnionPay said the app could be linked to more than one bank account by different banks with all of their mobile payment services accepted and conducted via the platform… The country’s dominant bank card clearing service provider also launched a nationwide promotional campaign with aggressive discounts to attract consumers who have been increasingly using Alipay and Tenpay services for shopping.”


Alipay pushes into Hong Kong, India, Thailand and the Philippines with Christmas shopping festival

Alipay to hold online 24-hour Christmas shopping festival as part of expansion push — South China Morning Post — “The event will take place in Hong Kong, India, Thailand and the Philippines with Alipay partners in each location: Hutchison in Hong Kong, Paytm in India, Truemoney in Thailand and GCash in the Philippines… As part of the December event, the AlipayHK joint venture has partnered with more than 8,000 bricks-and-mortar stores to offer exclusive gifts, discounts and rewards.”


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