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Alipay, Alibaba Group's online payments affiliate, plans to offer its services in Taiwan in the first half of next year in a bid to expand its international user base.
Alipay, which has about a 50 percent market share of China’s e-payment market, is already present in Hong Kong where users can buy top-up credit for their Alipay accounts from convenience stores to spend online. Alipay is the preferred method of payment for Chinese online shoppers; nearly 25,000 Alipay mobile transactions happen every minute and the daily transaction value over Alipay is more than 20 billion yuan.
“In the first half of next year, we are looking at a big push into Taiwan, but that’s subject to regulatory approval,” said Fan Zhiming, President of Alipay's domestic business. Fan also said Alipay will make a greater effort in 2014 to draw Hong Kong merchants to the platform in order to better serve existing Alipay users in Hong Kong.
Although Fan noted Taiwan’s strict rules over third-party payment providers, he remained optimistic that the regulatory hurdles can be crossed.
Alipay’s push into Taiwan mirrors Alibaba’s overall strategy of measured expansion into overseas markets where there are large Chinese-reading populations such as Singapore, Hong Kong, Malaysia and Taiwan. Taobao Marketplace, a unit of Alibaba Group and China’s top consumer-to-consumer e-commerce platform, launched a dedicated landing site in September aimed at Southeast Asian consumers.
Earlier this year, Alibaba’s Taobao platforms also partnered with eight logistics companies to launch an international parcel-forwarding service to some of those markets aimed at simplifying and lowering the cost of shipping online purchases.
Other than just catering to the consumer, Alipay has also teamed up with foreign companies to make it easier for them to tap the Chinese market. In September, Alipay tied up with Singapore Airlines to make it easier for Chinese travelers to pay for their air tickets on the Singapore Airlines’ website. Alipay is slowly expanding in the travel industry as China’s outbound tourism market booms. In 2012, some 83 million Chinese travelled abroad, spending $102 billion.
Alipay already works with about 15 international airlines including Hong Kong-based Cathay Pacific and KLM Royal Dutch Airlines as well as hotel booking website Agoda, owned by Priceline.com.