Alipay, the popular mobile and online payment platform was established in 2004. It was created initially as the payment department of Taobao- the B2C arm of the Alibaba group- to ensure trust between the buyer and the seller. It later on expanded beyond the Taobao and the Tmall and Alibaba platforms. It is currently the most popular and preferred mobile-based payment platform in China. It has 50.42% of the market share in 2016 and is being followed by WeChat Pay which has 38.12% of the market share. Alipay is valued over $60 billion and as of 2017, it has a payment volume of $1.7 trillion. It is also popular outside China and is accepted in 120,000 stores 26 countries. Alipay has also done acquisitions overseas and has bought 40% shares in Paytm- a popular mobile payment platform in India- valued at $680 million.
Alipay is open to foreigners living in China. The article provides the benefits of registering into Alipay for the foreigners and also the process of registering.
Why Register on Alipay
Mobile-based payments in China have been available to people with a bank account in the country. This meant that payment platforms like Alipay were accessible only to the Chinese nationals and not foreigners. However, with advent of technology and liberalization of the economy, other similar platforms like WeChat Pay offered the option for the users to add their foreign credit cards and thus the services were opened to the foreigners. For using Alipay in China, foreigners need to provide the details of their passport as their relevant ID while registering on Alipay. Only credit cards can be added and debit cards are not allowed to be added. They also need to download the app in mainland China, Hong Kong, Taiwan, or Macau.
Registering on Alipay has many benefits. It offers particularly greater benefits to foreigners as they can perform different types of transactions in China without having to carry cash with them. Alipay is widely accepted from large to small establishments in China and provides considerable convenience to the users. It is used to make purchases and make payments towards different utilities like taxis, restaurant bills, hotel bills, electricity bills etc. Alipay has the majority market share in digital payment platforms in China and is the most popular platform. Some of the major benefits which Alipay offers to its registered users are discussed below:
Alipay is used for making a wide variety of digital payments in China. Customers use Alipay on their smartphones and make payments, money transfers, in-app purchases, and other transactions. Use of Alipay opens the doors to all kinds of purchases and transactions to the customers on the click of a button on their smartphones. It is being used on a very large scale in China and offers tremendous convenience to the customers. They need not carry cash and can perform all their transactions digitally. It also avoids the risks associated with carrying cash and tendering exact monetary change which may not be readily available to the customers. The cost of transactions is also less compared to carrying the same transactions with cash.
Alipay has mass acceptance in China. It is accepted not only at the major outlets but by all small shops and service providers. Having a registered Alipay account on the smartphone saves lot of time to do online transactions and provides a lot of convenience to the customers. The wide acceptance of Alipay can be understood by the fact that it has more than 600 million registered users. Alipay is accepted by the taxis, small grocery shops and mostly by all establishments in China. The wide acceptance of Alipay provides flexibility to the customers to make purchases and payments of different basic utilities and services digitally and with considerable ease.
Access to Banking and Financial Services
Alipay is not only used for carrying out different payments and purchases, rather it is a payment ecosystem which is used for paying utilities and also provides the users the convenience of doing banking and financial services’ transactions. With the use of Alipay, users can purchase different types of insurance policies instantly and on the go. Banking transactions like money transfers, withdrawals, credit card transactions etc. can be conveniently carried out using Alipay. The app brings an entire gamut of financial services to the users on their smartphones making their lives convenient. Alipay is also used for buying mutual funds, gold, and other financial and investment products. There are new products being added to it along with a host of interesting offers to the users and offers them value for money.
Value for Money to Customers
Another added advantage of using Alipay is the value for money it offers to its users. There are always various offers provided by Alipay which give discounts, cash-backs, and other unique offers to the users. The offers are meant to promote the platform and also provide an enriched and improved end-user experience. The “encourage offer program” on Alipay was popular. It gave one set of offers to the users who used the app from Mondays to Thursdays and different offers from Fridays to Sundays. These promotional offers provide a competitive edge to Alipay in China and makes it extremely popular among its users.
It also introduced the “hongbao” feature by campaigns like “Five Lucky Card Collection” contest in 2015. The contest required the users to collect the “five lucky cards” before New Year’s Eve and stand a chance to win $29 million in prizes. Alibaba introduced the Augmented Reality (AR) technology which allowed the users to collect and hide hongbao in real locations by scanning objects with their smartphones.
Seamless E-commerce Integration
Alipay has a distinct advantage over other similar platforms as it has a seamless e-commerce integration. The users can connect with Taobao and Alibaba with their registered Alipay account as it is promoted by them. The ease of transacting on these e-commerce platforms provides an enriched and unmatched end-user experience which differentiates it from competition. China’s biggest e-commerce websites like Taobao and its retail equivalent Tmall have set up Alipay as their default payment system. The users transacting on these e-commerce websites can use Alipay to get the best offers and deals along with high-quality experience. Alibaba also organizes regular online sales like the Black Friday Sale, Singles Day events etc. which have Alipay as the default and preferred payment mode.
Money can be withdrawn from the Alipay account to the linked credit card. Similarly, the top up function allows the user to seamlessly transfer money from their credit card to the Alipay account. Alipay charges 0.1% for the total withdrawal amount above $2,897. This is done to encourage the users not to withdraw heavy amounts.
Other Useful Features
In addition to providing convenience to the users for making payments for different transactions, Alipay also provides other useful features. The uses can pay different utilities, buy airlines tickets, movie tickets, and also get food from their favorite restaurants to their home. Alipay can also be used for making payments for metro train rides. This eliminates the need for purchasing tickets and carrying them for the course of the journey. Alipay is also being used for paying rent by the tenants to their landlords. Booking of doctor appointments, payments at the gas stations, filing tax returns etc. are some other unique uses of Alipay in China. Alipay is connected with Uber and Airbnb and provides excellent experience to the users transacting on these platforms.
Lifesavers for Foreigners
Alipay is a blessing for foreigners in China who do not know the local language. They generally find it difficult to interact with local shopkeepers and establishments for making payments and getting the change due to language and cultural barriers. Alipay makes them overcome these barriers. Using Alipay, they can conveniently make payments from their smartphones only without any hassles. It is particularly more useful for foreigners on short trip to China who do not have to carry cash with them for making transactions. The application interface is in English also which makes it very convenient for the foreigners to understand and use it effectively for making transactions and purchases for basic utilities.
How Foreigners can Register on Alipay
Foreigners can also register on Alipay and create an account on it. Alipay offers great convenience to the foreigners as they can make purchases, do financial transactions, and pay for different utilities with their smartphones while living in China. It also helps them to overcome the language barrier and the difficulty of carrying cash around when they visit China. It is in the interest of foreigners visiting China or living there to register on Alipay and simplify their daily purchases and financial transactions. The process for registering an Alipay account for the foreigners on their smartphones is discussed below:
Download the Alipay App
The first step is to download the Alipay app on their smartphones. The app can be downloaded from different play stores. It can also be downloaded from the link (https://m.alipay.com/). The users can sign in from their phone numbers to download the app.
Enter the Relevant Details
Once the app has been downloaded, the users need to go to the “Me” section in it. After clicking on it, they need to set up their profile. Information relating to the cards, membership details etc. need to be entered by the users in this section.
Tap on “My Cards- Add Now”
The users need to tap on the “My Cards- Add Now” section. After clicking on this, they need to set up a six-digit payment password.
Tap on “My Cards- Add Now” Again
The users need to click on the “My Cards- Add Now” tab again and add the details pertaining to their bank cards. They need to enter the password setup earlier to complete this process.
Fill Bank Card Details
The bank card details need to be entered. The name of the cardholder should be entered exactly as it appears on the bank card. Foreign nationals need to select passport as their ID type while the users from Hong Kong and Taiwan can use Home visit Permit as their relevant ID.
Enter SMS Verification Code
The users will receive a verification code on their smartphones via SMS. They need to enter the SMS verification code to complete the process of registering an Alipay account. Once registration is complete, the users can log in to Taobao using their registered Alipay account.
For some users, verifying the account may be needed before they start using their Alipay account.
Security Features of Alipay
Alipay uses state-of-the-art technology for ensuring high-quality security features. It uses multiple security features for providing security and peace of mind to the customers. The registered Alipay account requires different passwords for login and payment which acts as added security. The login and payment passwords need to be different. Unscrupulous elements cannot try to break the login passwords as the users can only enter the login passwords five times and payment password three times only after which they are logged out of their Alipay account. Alipay also makes use of digital certificates which encrypts the information sent over the network. The data encryption prevents malicious hackers from seeing the same and they cannot hack the password or other sensitive data of the Alipay users.
Alipay has become a way of life in China. It is used by majority of the Chinese population to make cashless and digital payments for basic utilities and transactions. The users can avoid paying in cash and make the transactions from their Alipay account without having to bear any additional charges. Foreigners can also register on Alipay which makes their life easier in China as they can do transactions in different establishment without knowing the local language. They can also pay for utilities other than in-app or in-store purchases. Use of Alipay also gives the customers regular promotional offers and incentives which is another highlight and reason behind its popularity. The foreigners can easily download the Alipay app and follow simple steps to set up a registered Alipay account which will save them the trouble of keeping cash and make their life easier.