China / Society

Alipay bill brings memories and booming business

(Xinhua) Updated: 2014-12-09 21:41

HANGZHOU - Yvonne Fang could not believe her eyes when she saw a total transaction volume of 500,000 yuan (81,000 US dollars) on Alipay over the past 10 years.

"I hope my husband never sees the bill," she joked.

Alipay, an online payment platform launched by Alibaba in 2004, sent reports to its 300 million users on Monday detailing their spending over the past ten years.

The reports showed spending and investment through Alipay, together with an estimate of the users' assets in another 10 years judging from the spending and investment history.

Reviewing her spending since 2007, Fang, 30, found the first item she bought online was a blouse for only 69 yuan, one third of the tag price. "I even showed it off to my foreign colleague and recommended she turn to online shopping," recalled Fang, who now works at an international public relations company.

During her time spending online, she has grown from a fresh graduate into the mother of a two-year-old girl. The items she bought have also changed from clothes for her and her boyfriend, to furniture for their home, to baby things. "How time flies," she said.

The record not only brought a lot of memories, but exposed just how big the e-payment business has become in China.

According to the overall report, also released on Monday, the number of Alipay transactions reached 42.3 billion, with Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shanghai, Beijing and Jiangsu the top five regions.

Apart from online shopping, the report also included payments for mobiles, electricity and gas, credit card payments and fund transfers; services that Alipay offers free of charge.

Mobile payments accounted for over 50 percent of total online payments in 2014. The less developed regions in the west grew much faster than the developed east.

The regions with the highest percentage of mobile payments in 2014 were autonomous regions of Tibet -- where mobile payments were almost 63 of the total -- Ningxia and Inner Mongolia, and Shaanxi Province.

Chen Jin, director of the research center of modern services with the University of International Business and Economics, said mobile payments in sparsely populated western regions with poor transportation, have grown rapidly in recent years because of the popularity of smartphones and mobile Internet.

Following Alibaba's 25 billion dollar New York IPO in September, founder and board chairman of Alibaba Jack Ma told state media that Alipay will also go public someday, hopefully on the A-share market.

To that end, Alipay has started working with hospitals, stores and supermarkets, offering doctors appointments and payment services.

In Beijing, supermarkets such as Wu-Mart and Merry Mart are offering 10 percent discounts to encourage customers to pay their bills with their mobiles through Alipay.

Chen said Alipay, usually engaged in micropayment, has had to expand their community services with the "online to offline", O2O, and provide convenience to compete with UnionPay.

"With no more card swiping and signature needed, I'd rather use Alipay for convenience," said Cao Peng, a customer who paid his bill at a Merry Mart outlet in Beijing, adding that all he needed to do was to scan the bill code to make the payment with his smartphone.

Hot Topics