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Alibaba's new online investment tool faces challenge | Updated: 2013-06-26 15:03

Alibaba's affiliate Alipay is offering an online investment service with very high flexibility. It allows Alipay's users with money stored online to invest in a fund pegged to corporate debt and government bonds. The minimum investment is one yuan only. Investors can also withdraw money at any time or make a payment for online shopping directly from the fund account. The new service has attracted over one million users in its first week.

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"For many small fund companies, they may only have less than 1 million clients in total. So Alipay fund service is performing quite well in term of users' number, and the number is still increasing stably," said Lui Chao, Manager of Business Department at Alibaba Small and Micro Financial Services Group.

However, China Securities Regulatory Commission said on Friday that Alibaba may face penalties as it hadn't submitted all the required information for some accounts related to the fund sales. In response, Alibaba posted on microblog on the same day, saying it will meet the regulators' requirement in time, and the new service will not be suspended. The company seems very determined to expand into the financial service industry.

"Our goal is to provide investment service with easy and fast experience. Everyone should be able to invest. Financial products should not be with high threshold and far away from ordinary people," Lui said.

However, investors hold different opinions of Alipay's new service. People who aim at bigger investment value still tend to go to banks.

"I have investment in funds. Now I am not considering Alipay. I will still go to banks. Because I feel it's more reliable if people can explain the risk and return in person with me," said an investor, Xia Mengxiao.

According to Alipay, funds of the type customers can invest in averaged between 3 percent and 4 percent growth last year. That is much higher than 0.35 percent interest rates by a savings account with a commercial bank.

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