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Smoother payments to boost Singles Day

By HE WEI in Shanghai | China Daily | Updated: 2021-11-03 09:19
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An exhibitor pays via Cloud QuickPass during a financial expo in Shenzhen, Guangdong province. [Photo by Zhu Hongbo/For China Daily]

Merchants embrace Cloud QuickPass, give Nov 11 carnival added tech touch

The Nov 11 shopping gala features steep discounts and alluring promotions. This year, consumers will also enjoy a smoother payment experience.

Cloud QuickPass will officially debut as a payment method in this year's Double 11 shopping extravaganza, a festival coined by Alibaba Group.

This is the latest example of removing payment barricades, after 85 percent of all merchants on Taobao said they have accepted transactions through Cloud Quick-Pass.

In addition, American Express, the first foreign card organization to obtain a bank card clearing business license, also launched a discount event during Double 11 this year through Alipay.

Digital payments, albeit ubiquitous in China, used to be a matter of choice between Alipay, WeChat Pay, UnionPay or some other mobile wallet.

Today, such barriers are being torn down. For instance, WeChat users need only scan a Cloud QuickPass-offered by UnionPay-to complete transactions in the blink of an eye.

Alipay and WeChat Pay-with the pair combining to cover over 90 percent of the country's third-party payment market transactions-said they are enhancing online and offline integration with China UnionPay to allow a seamless payment experience.

In the past, users of Taobao, the e-commerce portal of Alibaba, could only make transactions via its indigenous mobile wallet Alipay by binding bank cards with Alipay accounts.

Such interconnectivity among technology houses is among the latest steps by China's antitrust campaigns to restore market order by reining in monopolistic behavior, experts said.

Fan Yifei, deputy governor of the People's Bank of China, said during a payment and clearance forum in September that the orderly interconnectivity of payment interfaces among platform companies helps boost fair competition, and that exclusive and discriminatory payment agreements should be banned.

The Fintech Development Plan 2019-2021 released in 2019 raised the issue of interconnectivity of barcode payments by developing technical standards as well as forming a technical system for the linkage and unifying barcode payment coding rules.

Regulation always serves the purpose of bolstering the healthy and coordinated development of platform economies, not just protecting the interests of internet giants, said Cao Zhongxiong, director of the New Economy Research Centre at the China Development Institute.

"Enhanced interconnectivity will promote internet platforms to fuel the growth of manufacturing companies and businesses of smaller scales," Cao said.

Meanwhile, it is essential that enhanced interconnection ensures safety of the real economy, industry and data privacy protection, he added.

Interconnectivity marks a crucial step in antitrust measures, which aim to take on leading companies that stymie innovation and competition through the industry barriers, said Pan Helin, executive dean of the Digital Economy Research Institute at the Zhongnan University of Economics and Law.

"More legislation and supervision should be placed on lowering entry barriers to provide micro, small and medium-sized enterprises with a level playing field," Pan said.

At the same time, interconnectivity calls for more nuanced internet governance and stricter supervision.

"Interconnectivity brings about new challenges. For instance, chances are higher that one accidentally opens a malicious link containing a virus in a more open internet system. Then it boils down to the question of which company should take the responsibility and how," Pan said.

Enhanced interconnectivity should also take into consideration extra costs like data collection and decryption, said Zhu Keli, founding dean of the National Research Institute of New Economics.

"Costs derived from privacy protection requirements might be affordable for major internet companies, but they could be prohibitive for SMEs. Therefore, more attention and policy orientation should be paid to the interests of smaller business players," Zhu said.

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