Alipay serves Chinese consumers in hundreds of stores and organizations
Alipay is one of the prevalent Chinese mobile payments systems. Created by Alibaba, it has eventually outgrown the limits of internal TaoBao transactions. Now, the payment app serves Chinese consumers in hundreds of stores and organizations. It is internationally accepted as a secure payment means as well. More than 70 countries of the world offer Chinese tourists this payment alternative. Nevertheless, its truly global expansion is held back by Western democracies. Many experts suspect that the Chinese state authorities have access to user data collected by both the Alipay and WeChat platforms.
Whether it is true or not, the app remains a daily reality for the Chinese. The number of cashless digital transactions there is the highest in the world. Since credit cards have never been popular in China, mobile apps are the best alternative to physical wallets. Digital payments are accepted practically everywhere while cash is quickly becoming obsolete. Whether you are a tourist eager to explore the wonders of China, or a business owner wishing to attract Chinese clients and expand your sales to the most vibrant consumer market in Asia, you’ll encounter Alipay sooner or later.
Back to basics
To begin with, Alipay is a simple-to-use app which is compatible with most devices. Luckily for international users, it cooperates with the most widespread financial systems of the world. Therefore, any users of Visa, MasterCard, American Express or various online-wallets can tie their accounts to the given app. Installing it and choosing a valid payment channel requires a registration.
The authorization process begins with inserting a cell phone number. It is used for sending a verification code needed to proceed with entering personal data. The required information is common for most payment systems. Alipay asks the user to fill in their name, surname and credit card number(s). Information security is protected by a password selected by the user.
The app interface is quite intuitive and can be easily used by not tech-savvy consumers. Most functions work via QR-codes scanning. The two hot buttons are “Scan” and “Pay”.
While paying in-store or at some physical facility, the employees will offer you scanning their unique QR-code. Then they can enter a necessary sum and receive your payment. Additional password confirmation is applicable in such cases to avoid unauthorized transactions.
Many supermarkets or restaurants have their own scanners placed at the pay desk. Alipay users can hit a “Pay” button and generate a payment barcode. No password is required after scanning to allow such type of payments. Those are practically instantaneous.
Another available main button is called “Collect”. Pressing it enables the owner to collect the debts from individual borrowers. That’s right, not only is Alipay a payment solution for business or service spheres, it is also often used for the interpersonal money exchange. If someone owes you money, you can generate a QR-code with the “Collect” option. The debtor then scans it and pays the specified amount back. The amount can be inserted by both sides either before or after scanning.
So that this function is easier to use within a circle of friends, colleagues, or family members, Alipay allows the creation of chats within the app. The “Friends” button opens the contacts list of people the user knows who use Alipay. The user can choose to add them to a chat. There is a special “Transfer” option within the chat. This way, friends can arrange a loan by chatting and immediately transfer money without leaving the app.
Alipay provides a thorough tracking history of all the user’s transactions. The profile data contains the details of all incoming and outgoing payments. The app also shows the account balance.
NB. The balance comprises only the money stored directly in that account. Information about the linked credit/debit cards is unavailable here. Their balances are seen only via their separate banking apps.
Nevertheless, money from the Alipay account can be withdrawn to the credit card or vice versa. For instance, it may be useful if the user lends money a lot. All the sums “collected”, land on your account balance. However, if you need to use a credit card outside of Alipay or the sum on your bank card is insufficient; money transferred from the account can be a lifesaver.
Uniting numerous services in one digital environment is popular nowadays. Even Facebook is planning to merge with Whatsapp and Instagram for better functionality. The tendency originates from the Chinese super apps such as WeChat. The Chinese population is used to that multi-functionality, they find it convenient and apply that principle wherever they can.
Alipay is not exclusive. Besides simple transactions, it features many useful services from partnering organizations.
You can order a taxi cab directly from Alipay app. Didi Taxi service provides all the usual features of a ride-sharing app (choosing the destination place on a map, automatic identification of one’s location by GPS etc.). Naturally, payment is done via Alipay at the end of the trip.
Users can also order food from the Alipay interface, borrow a bike, buy travel tickets, reserve a seat and pay for entry to many cultural events, or a movie theatre. If you don’t want food take-out, you can still use Alipay to scroll down the list of the nearest cafés and restaurants. The app assists you all the way to the dining place with step-by-step instructions.
Another recent use of Alipay suggests approaching transformations in the public transportation sphere. Hangzhou was the first city to introduce a scanning method for entering underground stations. Passengers no longer need any tokens or plastic cards for a ride. Just a cell phone with the Alipay app is enough. It helps users to avoid queues and facilitates the work of the underground employees.
Users of the Alipay platform enjoy numerous discounts at many stores and receive special little gifts during the Chinese New Year celebration period.
Furthermore, this app is a crucial part of the Ant Financial fintech ecosystem created by Alibaba. They gain access to the world’s largest financial market fund, Yu’e Bao. This can be used for investments, loans and even buying insurance. Ant also cooperates with many third parties to help their clients reach their financial goals smoothly.