HelloPay merger sets up Alipay expansion

Chinese online payments giant Alipay is set to expand in Southeast Asia through a merger of parent Ant Financial Services and HelloPay.

This move could advance efforts by the Alibaba Group, of which Ant Financial is an affiliate, to expand its annual Singles’ Day online shopping promotion internationally, says the South China Morning Post, which is owned by Alibaba. It comes about a year after Alibaba took control of HelloPay parent Lazada Group with a US$1 billion investment.

HelloPay, which was the payments platform of online retail services provider Lazada since November 2014, has been rebranded as Alipay in Indonesia, Malaysia, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines.

Alipay has attracted more than 450 million users in Mainland China since being launched in 2004, attributed to its collaboration with Alibaba’s core online shopping platforms, Juhuasuan.com, Taobao Marketplace and Tmall.com.

It is estimated that 120.7 billion yuan (US$17.5 billion) in “gross merchandise volume” was settled through Alipay during Alibaba’s online shopping promotion on November 11.

Ant Financial says the features and services of the rebranded HelloPay, which does not have a mobile app like Alipay, will not be changed in the meantime.

In a new report, research firm eMarketer says Ant Financial’s experience in migrating unbanked consumers in China to digital-payment systems is likely to translate well to markets in Southeast Asia with large populations and little traditional banking exposure.

Meanwhile, Ant Financial plans to relocate the HelloPay team to its Singapore offices.

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