Alibaba Financial Arm to Boost Apps as China Net Users Go Mobile

Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.’s financial affiliate plans to add functions to its mobile apps as users in China increasingly access the Internet from smartphones and tablets.

The financial arm of China’s biggest e-commerce company will also introduce fund products and promote a cloud-computing service, said Lucy Peng, chief executive officer of Alibaba Small & Micro Financial Services Group that includes the Paypal-like third party payment system Co.

Billionaire Jack Ma, Alibaba’s founder, is driving an expansion into financial services by the company that runs an online marketplace for goods from frozen mackerel to acupuncture lasers to Boeing Co. 737s. Alibaba is considering moving toward a listing in the U.S. after Twitter Inc. goes public, and has been valued by investment banks at as much as $120 billion.

“In the past three years I’ve repeatedly split and merged sections for Alipay’s mobile business to search for a breakthrough in innovation,” said Peng in her first press briefing since being appointed in March as CEO of the affiliate. “What we want is to help users complete any money-related functions they want on the Internet.”

Alipay’s latest mobile version allows payments to be made on vending machines for when users can’t get a mobile-phone signal and will be open to third-party developers.

Leftover Treasure

Alibaba’s financial arm also offers a cloud computing service, known as Ju Baopen, to finance companies. It works with five banks and has signed cooperation deals with another 20.

Alipay began offering fund products from Tian Hong Asset Management Co. in June on a platform called Yu’E Bao, which translates to “leftover treasure.” Alipay users can put their money in Yu’E Bao, which invests in funds. There’s no minimum amount and customers can withdraw their cash anytime.

“We have to maintain the open nature of Internet companies, and we also need to have the safe and cautious nature of financial services,” said Peng.

Yu’E Bao attracted 2.5 million users with 5.7 billion yuan ($934 million) of investments by the end of June, Alipay said.

Zhejiang Alibaba E-commerce Co., the parent of Alipay, last week said it would pay 1.18 billion yuan to buy control of Tian Hong.

Shareholder Information

The new fund products will come from third parties, Peng said, declining to identify them.

Alibaba Small & Micro Financial Services Group is being restructured and its shareholder information will be disclosed “soon,” said Peng. She said the company is registered in China using the name Zhejiang Alibaba E-commerce Co. and declined to elaborate.

Peng said the company has five business units: domestic, international,shared platform,innovative financial business and financial management.

Alibaba Small and Micro Financial Services Group contained two loan companies as of July, as well as Alipay, which has more than 800 million registered accounts.

Peng is one of the co-founders of Alibaba, which was formed in 1999. She was CEO of Alipay from 2010 to 2013, and until this year was also Chief People Officer of Alibaba, a post she held for more than a decade.

She earned a degree in business administration from Zhejiang Gongshang University in 1994 and taught at Zhejiang University of Finance and Economics.

Before it's here, it's on the Bloomberg Terminal.