The eCommerce giants have called on 44 million merchants to expand services for the app’s 900 million users. Company founder Jack Ma is hoping this will add to Alipay’s usage and will conduct the additions through mini-programs that will be at the top of the interface, much like rivals Wechat.
The new merchants will look to increase the numbers of buyers and users of the website and app. It is hoped that the program will drive 100 million Chinese small merchants to Alipay and allow them to track data for the future.
It would seem that Alipay which is owned by parent company Alibaba is once again looking to capitalise on the issues that an epidemic brings, something it did in 2003 following the SARs breakout.
Back then, struggling Chinese shoppers were forced to turn to the eCommerce sector and as a result, the online retail market grew at a rapid rate. Duncan Clark, who wrote a book on internet shopping giants, Alibaba, put SARs down as a huge factor in the company’s success.
It appears the trend has happened again, especially as many Chinese shoppers have looked to buy medical supplies, like face masks online and are using Alibaba services to do it.
“We’ve seen a spike in demand for online services,” He Yongming, vice president of Alipay’s open ecosystem business said, adding, “This trend will only grow stronger even after the virus outbreak ends.”
However, the company is not just making profits from the crisis, it is also aiding the fight. Alibaba is using blockchain, something its Ant Financial wing has been researching and implementing for some time, to track charity donations. The platform is used to monitor allocation and donations of relief supplies. Medical supplies are also an area where the technology is being used.