Alipay.com is a third-party online payment platform with no transaction fees. It was launched in China in 2004 by Alibaba Group and its founder Jack Ma. According to an analyst research report, Alipay had the biggest market share in China with 300 million users and control of just under half of China’s online payment market in February 2014. According to Credit Suisse, the total value of online transactions in China grew from an insignificant size in 2008 to around RMB 4 trillion (US$660 billion) in 2012.
Alipay provides an escrow service, in which consumers can verify whether they are happy with goods they have bought before releasing money to the seller. This service was offered for what the company says are China’s weak consumer protection laws, which have reduced consumer confidence in C2C and even B2C quality control.
Alipay says it operates with more than 65 financial institutions including Visa and Mastercard to provide payment services for Taobao and Tmall as well as more than 460,000 Chinese businesses. Internationally, more than 300 worldwide merchants use Alipay to sell directly to consumers in China. It currently supports transactions in 14 major foreign currencies.
The payment methods are MasterCard, Visa, Boleto Bancário, Transferência Bancária, Maestro, WebMoney, and QIWI Кошелек as of May 2014.
The PBOC, China’s central bank, issued licensing regulations in June 2010 for third-party payment providers. It also issued separate guidelines for foreign-funded payment institutions. Because of this, Alipay, which accounts for half of China’s non-bank online payment market, was restructured as a domestic company controlled by Alibaba CEO Jack Ma in order to facilitate the regulatory approval for the license.