Alipay Offers U.S. Retailers Tools for Selling to China

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Alipay Applications seen on an iPhone 5s Smartphone
Alipay, which facilitates Web purchases from desktop PCs, tablets and smartphones, has more than 550 million registered users and processes about 8.5 million transactions a day, according to its website. Photographer: Brent Lewin/Bloomberg

Alipay, the Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. financial affiliate controlled by Jack Ma, is trying to gain a foothold with U.S. retailers by offering them tools to help sell to consumers in China.

Alipay’s “ePass” service will let Chinese shoppers buy products on U.S. retailers’ websites and then manage payments and door-to-door shipping logistics, the company said in a statement. Alipay will also help market U.S. products to consumers in China.

The service allows Alipay to integrate its payment system into U.S. retailers’ websites as an alternative to others like EBay Inc.’s PayPal. The merchants gain an entree into the world’s most-populous country, where Alipay processed almost half of the nation’s $887.7 billion in online payments last year, according to the market-research firm iResearch.

“You have a store and you can reach out globally, and technology has enabled you to do so,” Jingming Li, president and chief architect of Alipay U.S., said at a press briefing in New York. “We’re there to help them go into China because we know our customers there.”

Alipay will charge a range of fees on the transactions, depending on the types of services provided to the retailer, Li said. He declined to say which retailers have agreed to use the offering.

Alipay, which facilitates Web purchases from desktop PCs, tablets and smartphones, has more than 550 million registered users and processes about 8.5 million transactions a day, according to its website. The company handled more than three-quarters of the purchases made on Alibaba’s platforms last year, according to a regulatory filing.

Younger Consumers

The new offering targets young professionals in China, Li said. The 18- to 35-year-old age demographic accounts for more than 75 percent of online payment users in China, according to iResearch.

At a conference in Beijing today, the company also revealed payment options through its Alipay Wallet app that allow users to pay for hospital fees, rent cars in Beijing and Hangzhou, and check out in retail stores with Alipay bar codes.

Alibaba’s shares rose less than 1 percent to $85.60 at the close in New York. The stock has gained 26 percent since its Sept. 19 initial public offering.

The move comes as EBay is spinning off its PayPal division to give it more flexibility to forge alliances with retailers and financial firms as competition intensifies. While PayPal offers cross-border selling solutions, the company isn’t one of the top seven online payment processors in China, which account for 98 percent of the market.

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