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Ant Financial plans Alipay feature to connect merchants and customers

By He Wei in Chengdu | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2017-08-30 20:16

Ant Financial Services Group, operator of China's largest e-wallet Alipay, announced on Wednesday it will roll out a local commerce feature to better connect merchants and customers using big data analysis.

The 'Life Account', embedded in the Alipay app, allows its 520 million users to search nearby merchants, receive discount coupons, make appointments and conduct payments, said Fang Fei, an Alipay director overseeing the new function.

It also helps business and social entities tap into their key clients by identifying their location and consumption preferences, she told a packed audience lined up to sign up for the service in Chengdu, Sichuan province.

Life Account is unveiled at a time when most companies have adopted WeChat's Public Accounts and Mini Programs as avenues for digital marketing and customer relations management. The social media tool now has 963 million active users who chat, tip, and settle traffic fines over the app.

But Alipay requires real-name registration for all its users, which Ant regards as an advantage over rival services to avoid false and redundant marketing endeavors.

In a trial run from the beginning of this year, China Telecom has attracted 60 million online followers to its official Life Account who bank on the virtual platform to get location-based discount information and proceed to conventional business inquiries such as mobile phone top-up and subscription of broadband services.

According to Zhao Yajie, the carrier's product director for internet cooperation, the Life Account handles the work equivalent of 3,000 offline service halls and saves up to 10,000 human labor.

Major international brands from fast-food chain KFC, cruise line Royal Caribbean International, to travel service Agoda have already signed up for the service, Ant said.

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