Alipay’s New Vision

Alipay’s New Vision

On March 10th, Simon Hu, the CEO of Ant Financial, announced Alipay will upgrade its platform to a digital lifestyle platform; and focus on digital services to help 40 million vendors with 50 thousands service providers to “digitize” their services in the next 3 years by enabling them to open “mini-programs” on Alipay.

Alipay’s Chinese slogan will change from “支付就用支付宝” (use Alipay to make a payment) to “生活好,支付宝” (Alipay makes your life beautiful).

The mini-programs on the home page have been expanded from 9 to 14. The new programs include, life service, food delivery, city service, hotel booking service, and more. By scrolling down the page, users will find more mini-programs like epidemic information search, online diagnosis, group-buying and shopping online, and so on. Users have commented that this upgrade is like moving Eleme or Meituan onto Alipay.

Simon said, “This epidemic is a disaster, it is also a challenge. Because of the epidemic, the efficiency of city management and public management in China will be improved by 3%-5%, which will bring more interaction to internet and digital technology, and generate great interactive effects.

“We are likely to see more opportunities for market development as the fundamentals of the Chinese economy have not changed.

“The biggest change brought from the epidemic is the acceleration of the transfer from offline to online economy. We have observed that all kinds of applications built on the Internet ecosystem, including community management, medical and health services, personal care services, especially location-based local life services, are growing very fast.

“A number of new Internet applications have emerged rapidly.”

In 2019, China’s GDP reached 99 trillion yuan, of which the tertiary industry, e.g. service industry, has reached 53 trillion yuan.

However, so far the total amount of online life services platforms, such as Eleme, Meituan, Ctrip, Fying pig, etc., only account for 5% GDP in the whole service industry. A large amount of GDP has not been digitized yet and a lot of services have not been internet-enabled.

Alipay wants to upgrade the integrated service platform to a system which will integrate finance with life scenarios and transform the financial payment service platform into a digital lifestyle platform.

With this upgrade the goal is to see more service providers on Alipay, provide more digital life services to users, and improve vendors operational capabilities by enabling their financial capacity, supply capacity, service capacity, logistics capacity, and so on.

Alipay plans to increase the current 10,000 service providers to 50,000 in 3 years, and these service providers will service 40 million vendors in the service industry.

In the meantime, Alipay will also provide some assistance programs, such as training services, supporting services, etc.

Users also find a mini-program called city service, what’s this mini-program for?

By the end of December last year Alipay has seviced over 300 cities in China. Nearly 450 million people use Alipay to manage all kinds of E-Government Affairs.

In China, every city has a civic center to provide some government related services to people. Alipay hopes to bring the civic center online, thus people can do their businesses without stepping out of their homes.

In the future, ID card will be digitized, business licenses will be digitized, and so will taxes and invoices.

Through this upgrade, in the next five years, Alipay would like to see at least 50% of Chinese service industry go digital. The current Chinese service market size is 5.3 billion yuan. In 5 years it will reach 6.5 billion Yuan.

Last year Alipay decided to build an ecosystem which combines centralization and decentralization.

For decentralization, Alipay encourages vendors to upgrade their services and manage their customers by using their own mini-programs. Alipay will have life service accounts for life service vendors, finance accounts for financial institutions, and bank accounts for banks.

For centralization, Alipay wants to use the ability to provide services based on users’ location and time lines. People’s life habits are different from different cities and at different times. For example, usually people don’t eat hotpot in the morning and like to check wealth manager related apps at a certain hour.

Based on the research of the locations and time-lines, Alipay customizes the settings of digital life products. The ideas of the products are to interact with users based on users’ life habits. The settings will be different in the morning, noon and night, weekend and working days. In the future, the different settings will be expanded to thousands.

This upgrade has been prepared for 18 months, which was initially going to be launched severl months later; but the epidemic has made people realize the importance of digital services, thus Alipay’s plan has been brought forward.

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