During the Internet Security Summit in Beijing on August 21st, Ant Financial announced the official upgrade for the security control of its digital payment platform – Alipay. The more secured process is achieved through what is called a 'Delayed Payment' (DP) function.

China's tech giants are increasingly focused on positioning themselves as technology providers rather than financial services providers. A recent 3-second blockchain remittance from Hong Kong to the Philippines, was supported by Alipay HK and Philippine's GCash, cleared by Standard Chartered. Caifu Hao, a wealth management platform launched by Ant Financial, opened their AI-functioned investment tools to fund companies. Tencent recently signed contracts with a few banks to provide a financial cloud structure for acquiring and managing growing clients.

June 25th 2018, Ant Financial launched its E-wallet cross-border remittance service based on blockchain technology. Customers using Alipay HK can transfer money in real time to another E-wallet Gcash based in the Philippines.

Ant Financial was valued at $150 billion recently, making it the biggest unicorn globally. As it completed its most recent $10 billion financing, the company has made it clear that Ant’s future is being a tech provider to the financial industry. 

China's banks have lost significant market share to fintech companies like Ant Finance and Tencent, especially in the mobile payment space, which the fintech companies have used as a basis to move into other market segments such as online lending. Banks have been distanced from consumers and there are concerns that people do not need banks any more. Are things really that bad?

On April 7th, 2018, Alibaba announced an investment of 4.5 billion RMB (7.1 bn USD) to Huitongda, showing the intention to develop business in the rural areas of China. They will cooperate on supply source, logistics, technology and life services.

In 2017, the Chinese smartphone market saw its first ever decline, with -4% YoY growth in smartphone shipments and -4.9% YoY growth in smartphone sales.

On February 1st, Alibaba and Ant Finance jointly announced that, according to their strategic agreement signed in 2014, Alibaba will acquire 33% of Ant Finance’s shares through one of Alibaba’s subsidiaries.

In China, bar code payments (including QR codes) dominate the mobile payment market. Using a bar code to pay is easy, but comes with risks. In 2017, about RMB 90 million ($14 million) was stolen due to fraud. On December 25th, 2017, the People’s Bank of China (the PBOC) released new regulation to standardize bar code payments. The regulation will come into effect from April 1st, 2018.

Previously, WeChat has been the world's dominant chat & payment app with over 1 billion WeChat users worldwide, spread over 15 countries; 200 million of which use the app's payment function. Could WhatsApp's December 2017 release of a payment enabled WhatsApp app in India find similar success? 

On December 11th, 2017, China Union Pay (CUP), together with over 30 commercial banks and payment institutions, launched a new version of its mobile payment APP, QuickPass (云闪付), starting a new battle in the mobile payment industry.

China Telecom and China Mobile, two of China's leading telecommunication companies, were approached by the Chinese government under a proposition to enter the Philippines telecommunications market. 

With Bitcoin recently hitting an all- time high of $14,000 USD on December 7th 2017, many have been asking questions about whether the cryptocurrency’s price will continue to rise in the future or if it is simply a speculative bubble waiting to burst. The currency has risen by over $13,000 USD since the 1st of January 2017, a remarkable, and for some unfathomable surge considering it has no tangible assets or value at its core.

Singapore’s PayNow and Thailand’s PromptPay are set to link their national digital payment systems, thereby making it easier to send money between the two countries.

It is quite obvious that Alipay is the largest mobile payments platform in the world, with approximately 400 million registered users. Third-party payment platforms play an integral role in Chinese consumers’ everyday transactions because of the multi-faceted services offered, such as ecommerce and mobile payment transactions.

According to iResearch data released in September 2014, the Gross Monetary Value of China’s third-party online payments reached 1,840.66 billion Yuan (USD $299 billion), with year on year growth of 64.1%.

The People’s Bank of China (the PBOC) started issuing the Payment Business License since May 2011 to non-banking institutions. Up until March 2015, the PBOC had issued 270 payment licenses.

China’s Transsion Holdings, one of the major mobile phone manufacturers in the world and second largest smartphone vendor in Africa is known for owning mobile phone brands TECNO, itel and Infinix. It was the first Chinese smartphone manufacturer to explore the African market and have a smartphone plant in Africa.

Today, its mobile phone brands have experienced tremendous success with itel being the second largest handset vendor in India with approximately 8 million sold handsets within only 8 months of its launch. Whilst, Infinix is successfully winning over the Nigerian and Kenya smartphone market through 'Infinix Mobility' which reported that it sold over 4 million devices in Africa within a 16-month period.

Ant Financial is well established as the largest fintech in China. These past two years have been excellent for the company as they reached 450 million users with an average expenditure of 16,000 RMB through the Alipay platform. They recently started to make use of Alibaba’s acquired controlling stake of company Lazada in Singapore, which has given them access to most of the SEA market. In addition, Ant bid for Moneygram in the United States, and funded bike sharing service Gobee.bike’s launch in Hong Kong (being the first bike sharing company of the kind launched in HK). However, the important question here is: what awaits the company in the near future? Three words. Diversification, internationalisation and experimentation.

QR-codes have been a boon for China's 3rd Party Payment providers, but due to QR-Code standardization and the launch of China's Online Settlement Platform for Non-Bank Payment Institutions, more colloquially known just as Wanglian, QR-codes could now be the payment giants' biggest challenge.

Hike messenger, a popular phone messaging service app in India, has recently decided to introduce payment services on its platform. 

On the last day of March 2017, Wang’lian (Internet Payment Union) started its trial operation after one year of preparation. The first group of companies that have joined the platform include: Wechat Pay, China Merchants Bank, Bank of China, and Chinabank Payment. The platform will effectively cut the 3rd party payment networks of Ant Financial and Tencent, and is likely the most important payment industry development this year, and it may not bode well for China's dominant digital payment companies. 

Last week, at The Fifth Session of the twelfth National People's Congress in China, Mr. Zhou Xiaochuan, the chief governor of People’s Bank of China (PBOC), encouraged the development of Fintech during the press conference among all topics about finance reform and development in China.

In its recent mobile app update, Alipay has put its QR code for accepting payments away from the main screen to a separate button on the top right corner. This seemingly small technical change has operational and business implications too.

The RuPay is an initiative by the National Payments Corporation of India (NPCI). It is intended to provide a domestic alternative to the global MasterCard and Visa card payment systems. It will also allow NPCI to consolidate various payment systems in India. It is directly comparable to its Chinese counterpart, China UnionPay, which has been highly successful and is a world leader in payment systems.

Last Friday, the People’s Bank of China (PBOC), China’s central bank, issued a new notice for the third party payment companies which will be enacted on April 17th, 2017 and will require the payment companies to deposit around 20% of the held customer fund to specified general bank accounts.

The first batch of Chinese credit scoring companies has been waiting for their licenses for 24 months now. What are the reasons for the delay and how has the recent Alipay Circles incident affected the formal launch of the industry?

Since the start of this year, there have been many news about the set up of “Wang’Lian”, which means Non Bank Internet Payment Union, in China.

NFC standards have been agreed and in place for just over 5 years in China, but have made little headway. On Monday this week, China UnionPay launched their own QR code solution. China UnionPay was one of NFC's primary supporters, so this shift to QR could mean the end of NFC in China.

This week, the Internet Banking Union (IBU) was approved by China’s central bank the People’s Bank of China (PBOC) thus creating a 'Digital Union Pay' that may bring cross-platform interoperability to digital payment platforms including Alipay and WeChat Pay. The platform is expected to launch by the end of the year and may bring a big change in the digital payment industry in China.

The recent wave of Alipay partnerships with merchant acquirers has spanned the globe. With the common goal of letting Chinese tourists pay with Alipay, one of their favorite payment methods, Ant Financial has partnered with Wirecard in Germany, Ingenico in France and First Data in the US.

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