Business / Companies

Alipay being used by 100 million to access public-sector transactions

By Fan Feifei (China Daily) Updated: 2016-01-15 10:58

More than 100 million residents from 124 cities in 19 provinces are now using Alipay, e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd's mobile payment unit, to handle social services and public-sector transactions.

The company said its latest figures show there are 40 types of public services and 4,000 business items now available through the platform.

Some of the most popular include paying medical bills and traffic tickets, making local security and provident fund queries, booking appointments at marriage registration offices, and renewing exit-entry permits for Hong Kong and Macao.

Alipay's business was first extended to public services in April last year. According to an Alipay study, people in Zhejiang province use the service most for public-sector related payments, followed by those in Guangdong, Shanghai, Beijing and Hubei.

The Zhejiang government has also launched its own government affairs service platform on Alipay to collect public opinion and suggestions.

The study showed the housing provident fund queries were its most popular type of service accessed by Beijing residents using Alipay, in which residents need to input personal identification information before checking their balance.

The most common by residents in Zhengzhou, capital of Henan province, was making social security payment inquiries, with more than 1.06 million users since it was launched there two months ago.

While in Guangzhou and Shenzhen, in Guangdong province, exit-entry permit renewals for Hong Kong and Macao through Alipay proved its most popular transaction.

Further up the coast in Shanghai, meanwhile, its civil affairs bureau now allows residents to register their marriages using Alipay, with just two days' notice.

Li Chao, an analyst with iResearch Consulting Group, said: "Alipay is now penetrating every aspect of people's daily life, and we expect to see it being used to access even more government and social public services in future, which will help grow its market share."

Alipay's biggest rival, Tencent Holdings Ltd's WeChat, has also been aligning itself more with the public sector. By the end of last year, some 40 million people were making 27 types of public transactions using WeChat, including services covering traffic, medical and public security.

Li said the great benefit to both companies, of course, is being able to obtain huge amounts of personal customer data through these platforms, which they can then formulate and develop into their own products and services.

"The companies can target people getting married, for instance, by developing possible related products, such as tailor-made loan services to suit young couples."

Meanwhile, on the government side, Li said using the electronic payment platforms is allowing an improvement in the quality and efficiency of public services.

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