Uber Deal Bolsters Alipay as ‘Global Lifestyle Super App’

  • JJ Hornblass
  • May 3, 2016
  • 1

Uber’s deal with Alipay is more than just a win for riders of black cars.

The deal moves Alipay further toward its goal of becoming a “global lifestyle super app” — Alipay’s words, not ours.

Ant Financial, which operates Alipay, recently raised $4.5 billion in what is being called the largest tech raise ever.

The Uber deal, Recode reports, allows Alipay users to “pay for and hail a ride in the Alipay app in the more than 400 cities in which Uber operates. It’s an extension of Uber’s existing partnership with the company which initially only allowed passengers in China to pay for their rides using Alipay.”

The key is this will happen within the Uber app. Uber has such integrations in the US, but none, as far as we know, with a pure-play payments app.

Ah, but that’s the thing: Alipay does not want to be a pure-play payments app. In a video that has gotten painfully little attention, Alipay disclosed that it has designs well beyond “payments.”

What this means is that the app does not just facilitate payments as part of a host of services. Among the services currently offered by Alipay are shopping, investment, discounts, entertainment, travel and food delivery. Specifically, Alipay has integrations — that is, inside the app — with:

  • Yu’e Bao — online wealth management/money market fund
  • Ant Fortune — online wealth management
  • Stock — equity information
  • Big World — information on merchants outside China
  • Ali Trip — vacation packages
  • Koubei — Asia’s Yelp
  • Go Dutch — P2P payments

And now Uber. In announcing the deal, Eric Jing, president of Ant Financial Services Group, Alipay “will continue to look for more global partners to give Alipay users more scenarios for using the mobile app.”

The transformation of Alipay beyond payments is significant consider its number of users, as of the end of January 2016: 400 million. Alipay is processing at least 80 million transactions per day, and 60% of those are mobile. In other words, Alipay already owns a big chunk of global payments — onward to, well, everything else.

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JJ started the first iteration of Bank Innovation back in 2007, and has been working on it ever since. He also serves as President & Chief Executive Officer of Royal Media, Bank Innovation’s parent. He founded Royal in 1995 and oversees all aspects of the New York-based diversified media company. Prior to forming Royal, JJ was on the editorial staff of American Banker, the daily newspaper, and worked as an editor of a business magazine in Hong Kong. As a reporter and editor, he has won journalism awards from the National Press Foundation, Newsletter & Electronic Publishers Foundation, and the Reader’s Digest Foundation. He has a BS in Economics from Yeshiva University and a Master’s from the Columbia University Graduate School of Journalism. He was also a Fellow at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Graduate School of Banking. He lives in New York City with his wife, two daughters, and son. He counts among his accomplishments one New York City Marathon, two New York City Triathlons and the 2010 Father’s Day 5K, the first race he ever ran with his daughters. He can be reached at hornblass@gmail.com or 212-564-8972.

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