When China introduced stricter real name registration payment regulations, some speculated that there might be a potential negative impact on Alipay’s business. Far from it, however, Alibaba has taken the bull by the horns and is using the required upgrades to further develop its businesses, advancing its O2O model and extending its e-commerce platform to create an even larger ecosystem.
Since last October, Alipay has been updating its systems, now requiring unregistered customers to complete an identification process. According to a statement from Alipay, of its 2.63 billion personal payment accounts, 1.35 billion (51.07%) have already finished the real name registration as of year end 2015.
Although the registration requirement takes away anonymity for individual users, it creates the benefit of consumer protection. For instance, transaction limits will rise to 200,000 RMB per year and tracking transactions is now easier. There is also more functionality available for Alipay users who complete the real name identification, such the ability to use services like Yu’ebao, Ant Check Later (Hua’Bei), etc.
In addition to the compliance benefits for Alipay, it is also beneficial because it will now facilitate the seamless use of on-line payments for real-world goods. For example, registered users can now use Alipay to connect with most major medical appointment platforms covering over 2000 hospitals across China.
The idea of participating in health care has great potential. In China, it has always been extremely difficult for customers get appointments for medical services, especially for popular hospitals and doctors. There have been many reports of appointment ticket scalpers in the news. With Alipay, patients simply need to choose from available periods for hospitals, departments, and doctors. Then they can complete payments or even get micro loans for medical fees from Ant Check Later. The loan amount can range from 10,000 to 300,000RMB. The process is simple and can speed up people’s waiting time significantly. In China, the waiting queue normally takes one patient an average of 22.6 minutes. With the help of Alipay, the time can be reduced to 4.3 minutes.
In addition to advancing into the medical field, Alibaba is also aiming at energy and transportation. Registered users can now use Alipay at approximately 30,000 service stations to make petrol or gas payments, including Petro China, Sinopec, Total, Shell, BP, etc. This is not only helping Alipay to gain more users, it is also generating big data for the platform. With this user data, Alibaba can analyze service station operations at different places. This will help petrol companies to improve their resource distribution, station set up, and increase the efficiency of their operations.
What is more, Alipay has established links with the Highway ETC paying system and more than 800,000 parking spaces in China.
With Alipay’s partnerships with other financial services, Alibaba is now helping people to eat, drink, play, shop, travel, meet their medical needs, and more. It is aiming to occupy every corner of everyday life. This will make many people’s daily lives easier. But it will also mean more reliance on Alibaba as their influence grows and the Alibaba ecosystem expands.