Jul 20, 2017 05:41 PM

Ant Financial Seeking Partners to Build Cashless Cities


Speaking at the 2017 China Investment Forum on Tuesday in Prague, the Czech Republic, a senior executive of Ant Financial Services Group (Ant Financial), a leading digital financial services company, said the company will keep looking for partners to build cashless cities after several Chinese cities joined its initiative.

China, which has a mobile payment market of $5.5 trillion, is at the forefront of the mobile payment and a cashless society trends.

In less than one month, four Chinese cities, Wuhan, Fuzhou, Tianjin and Guiyang, embraced the cashless initiative by applying Ant Financial’s Alipay, the world’s largest mobile and online payment platform, to enable a cashless lifestyle — paying utility bills and taxes, commuting, seeing a doctor and shopping just by carrying a mobile phone.

Using the city of Hangzhou as an example, Ant Financial Vice President Xu Hao shared a story about how two young men failed to rob convenience stores of large sums of money simply because the stores did most of their business via mobile payments.

Data show that more than 95% of the convenience stores in Hangzhou accept payments through Alipay. On occasion, beggars, street performers and temples in China have been seen collecting money through mobile payment services.

In Hangzhou, 5,000 buses, 98% of taxis, and every subway station in city accept cashless payments via Alipay. People can even use Alipay to pay traffic fines.

“Cashless is not about eradicating cash, but about providing people with the mobile payment option,” Xu said. “Going cashless will make finance more inclusive, businesses smarter and society more efficient.”

Xu said Ant Financial hopes to cooperate with more international partners to facilitate cashless lifestyle for Chinese tourists and provide overseas merchants with the ability to accept cashless payment. Currently, more than 40 merchants in the Czech Republic accept payment via Alipay.

In early July, the Moscow Department of Transport announced that it plans to integrate Alipay into the city’s public transportation system. Doing so will allow Chinese tourists to use Alipay to buy tickets for Moscow’s subway, buses and tram system.

In June, Alipay signed a memorandum of understanding with the government of Monaco to allow more merchants in this European tourist destination to accept payments via Alipay.

In April 2017, Ant Financial, in collaboration with UN Environment and other partners, launched the Cashless Alliance in Hangzhou. The alliance envisions a cashless society that is green and inclusive. It is focused on supporting a cash-free and inclusive business community.

Alipay has committed an investment of 6 billion yuan ($888.2 million) over the next two years to support the development of the cashless society. The investment will be used to develop technological capabilities and support Cashless Alliance partners. For example, businesses that have adopted green and sustainable practices for their storefronts will receive priority access to funding to go cashless. For example, such funding could be used to buy and install the equipment necessary to handle digital payments.

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