China Payments Research

Xiaomi, the well-known Chinese technology focused electronics company, has announced the launch of its payment services “MI Pay”, which is in cooperation with China Union Pay, the biggest Bankcard Association in China. The official launch date is September 1st. After Apply pay, Samsung Pay, Xiaomi is yet another mobile company joining the competition with Alipay in the third-party payment industry in China.

The recent announcement that Canadian merchants will now accept UnionPay’s mobile QuickPass payment, along with Ingenico partnering with Alipay to provide mobile payments in Europe, highlight that huge strides are being made by both UnionPay and Alipay to infiltrate Western markets and that these efforts are being supported by the Western payments industry.

On Aug 12th 2016, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) issued license extensions to the first group of companies in China to ever receive a third party payment license five years ago.  It was a long wait for the 27 firms. Their licenses, including those of industry giants Alipay and China UnionPay, had expired 78 days ago. 

Ant Finance, the most valuable Fintech startup in China, announced their plan to launch another payment app based on Virtual Reality (VR) technology. It will allow customers to make payments when they are using VR.

At Lendit’s China conference in Shanghai this week, Kapronasia learned that Chinese digital payments giant Alipay is close to rolling out its new facial recognition software to the public. The lender – whose payments system holds about 48 percent of China’s online payments market share last year – has already made the feature available for employees, and plans to open it up to the public in the next few months, according to a source from Ant Financial. To pay with a selfie, Alipay users use a camera installed on the online payments platform to take a picture of themselves and the platform uses biometric methods to verify their identity. Ant Financial, which runs Alipay, is an affiliate of Hangzhou-based Alibaba Group Holdings.

China is pushing its card industry towards tokenization as it seeks to make digital payments more secure on the Mainland. Banks and payment service providers (PSP) are required to use tokenization to process transaction data by the end of this year, according to Chinese business publication National Business Daily, citing a notice from China’s central bank.

Rumours are swirling that Alibaba’s Taobao will collaborate with UnionPay. While details are still unknown, this partnership is noteworthy as Alibaba's online payments system Alipay and UnionPay have been fierce rivals for the past ten years.

Apple has turned to the mobile payments industry after the smartphone business has slowed down, as a way to increase revenue streams. Apple Pay, Apple’s mobile payment and digital wallet service, has been very successful in the United States. However, Apple Pay has been struggling to tap into international markets due to technical problems, the lack of user adoption, and resistance from banks.

Starting from only 18 employees and a small B2B platform, Alibaba has become an e-commerce giant in China and already expanded into many other industries. But Alibaba has no plans to stop, Alibaba is now working on an even bigger ambition: to insert itself into ever part of our everyday lives.

On May 20th, Samsung Pay and Alipay announced their intention to merge their online payment businesses. Now, users can import their Alipay account into Samsung Pay and with just one swipe, users can enable Alipay’s QR code. The whole process can be completed within 2 seconds, even if your screen is locked. This is a huge step for Alipay, since the new user experience increases convenience and eliminates the normal steps of finding the app and waiting for it to load. Alipay’s new process drastically decreases the inconvenience of using the QR code as a payment method. But it begs the question, why would Samsung betray UnionPay to partner with Alipay?

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