How Alipay is working with European partners to further digital payments post COVID-19, writes Jonathan Quin in The Paypers
Written by Jonathan Quin, Head of Europe Strategy of Ant Group. Originally published by The Paypers on September 14, 2020.
Jonathan Quin, Ant Group: I believe the key to the successful adoption of mobile payments and a digital lifestyle lies in smart applications of technology, be it artificial intelligence, blockchain, or even the humble QR code.
COVID-19 has had a devastating impact on the world we live in, and as we reflect on the pandemic’s catastrophic effects on human life, the profound and long-lasting changes it will bring to economies and industries are also coming into sharper focus.
One area where we can expect accelerated transformation is in the field of payments, and more broadly, financial services, as social-distancing measures become a part of daily life. In Europe for example, payment habits have changed to become more digital due to COVID-19 and these changes are likely to be permanent.
I believe the key to the successful adoption of mobile payments and a digital lifestyle lies in smart applications of technology — be it artificial intelligence, blockchain, or even the humble QR code. Technology can both improve an existing service or extend that service. Improvements can make the payment process faster, easier, and safer.
These developments included SME lending, money market funds, health insurance, and even an online program called Alipay Ant Forest that encourages people to reduce their carbon footprint.
‘Zero contact’ loans
One example was ‘zero contact’ loans which MYbank, an online private commercial bank under Ant Group, launched in partnership with 100 Chinese banks to support 10 million SMEs, individual businesses, and farmers across China. These AI-powered loans take three minutes to apply for on a mobile phone, approvals can be given within one second, and the process can be completed with zero manual intervention (hence the ‘310’ name for Alipay’s lending model).
Other innovations included digital coupons, issued through the Alipay app to help boost consumption as more businesses emerge from the shutdown; as well as job seekers’ mini-programs, which are like mini-apps within the Alipay app through which those who have lost employment due to the pandemic can search for part-time jobs.
Understanding consumer preferences
How are these developments relevant for those of us in Europe? In the midst of the COVID-19 lockdown in Europe this May, I joined an online panel, where we discussed how the pandemic is changing the global payments landscape and how that will affect the future of financial services in Europe.
The panel moderator, author and fintech blogger Chris Skinner, had also conducted a study on the topic, which concluded that Europe’s payments market is still a fragmented one, providing significant potential for innovation and development.
This means that companies need to be innovative in their solutions, make sure they understand the preferences of European consumers, create products that best suit their needs, and, as mentioned above, make sure that they either improve the existing process or extend the services available.
This year, we also launched the Alipay Europe service as one of the payment options available on AliExpress, to further enhance the user experience when shopping online.
Partnering in Europe
In June 2019, we also started working with six payment partners, including Bluecode and Vipps, to develop a compatible and interoperable QR-code format for users of these European e-wallets — estimated at five million people.
For this reason, it is likely that businesses in Europe will soon reopen and welcome global visitors again. Responsible technology companies can play an important part in that recovery, by introducing innovative payments and other digital services, bringing a better experience to consumers, as well as the merchants and SMEs that serve them.
This article was published in our Payments Methods Report 2020, an extensive overview of what’s new in how people pay in the most relevant ecommerce markets. About Jonathan Quin
Jonathan Quin is Ant Group’s Head of Europe Strategy. He was founder and previously CEO of WorldFirst, a high-growth fintech that is making it faster, easier, safer and cheaper for businesses and individuals to move money around the world. Jonathan co-founded WorldFirst in 2004, after spending the earlier part of his career at Citibank and RBS. In February 2019, WorldFirst became part of the Ant Group.