Alipay says it is largest mobile payment provider

By Liang Fei Source:Global Times Published: 2014-2-9 23:23:01

Graphics: GT

Alipay, the payment subsidiary of China's largest e-commerce firm Alibaba Group, said over the weekend that its total mobile payment volume reached 900 billion yuan ($148.41 billion) in 2013, making it the largest mobile payment provider in the world.

The number has far exceeded the combined payment volume of the world's two leading payment firms, US-based Square Inc and PayPal, a division of eBay Inc, the company said in a posting on its official Sina Weibo account Saturday.

PayPal's mobile payment volume reached $27 billion in 2013, according to the company's financial report.

Transaction data for Square is not available as it is not a publicly listed company. But given that Square is smaller than PayPal, Alipay has made the estimation that the two companies' combined payment volume was around $50 billion in 2013, according to Zhang Daosheng, a spokesperson for Alipay.

In a press release sent to the Global Times Saturday, Alipay said that over 100 million people are using its mobile payment service and 2.78 billion transactions were made via its mobile service in 2013.

During the seven-day Spring Festival holidays, over 100 million transactions were made via Alipay's mobile payment service, accounting for 52 percent of all the transactions made via Alipay during the period, the company said.

"This is the first time mobile payment has accounted for such a high percentage," Zhang told the Global Times on Sunday. He also noted that its mobile payment users surged five times compared with that of 2012.

As Internet users turn to mobile more, the mobile payment sector is expected to see robust growth, while the growth of payments done through PCs is losing momentum, said Wang Weidong, an analyst at Beijing-based iResearch Consulting Group.

So far Alipay has around 300 million real-name users.

In the third quarter of 2013, Alipay accounted for 48.8 percent of China's third-party payment market and 78.4 percent of the mobile Internet payment market, according to data from iResearch.

But Alipay is facing increasing competition. Major rival Tencent launched its mobile payment service via its popular instant messaging service WeChat in August 2013, which many analysts consider a strong competitor for Alipay in the mobile payment field.

WeChat payment has gained a significant number of users through its aggressive promotion recently, such as its cooperation with taxi-hailing app Didi Dache and its "red envelope" campaign during the Spring Festival holidays, which enables users to send out cash gifts to their WeChat friends by linking their bank cards to the software.

Feeling the competition, Alipay also launched a similar cooperation with taxi-hailing app Kuaidi Dache, hoping to cultivate users' habit to use mobile payment services in offline deals.

Feng Lin, an analyst at China E-Commerce Research Center, noted that to develop mobile payment does not merely mean encouraging people to pay online deals via mobile payment, instead, offline deals mean greater opportunities and "will be the focus of competition."

Tencent did not respond to the Global Times' interview request about WeChat payment Sunday.

Wang noted that the mobile payment market is still in its nascent stage, thus it is still too early to tell who will become the leader.

Alipay's Zhang also said that it is good to have competitors to cultivate the market together, which is large enough to support several players.

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