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Ant Financial Services Group has quietly launched a new bulk payment function on its mobile app Alipay, sparking speculation that the payment giant is eyeing a challenge to banks’ paycheck services.
The new payment service, called Fabei (发呗), is still in a beta or development version and in trials involving invited users, Ant Financial told Caixin. Neither the launch time nor the name of the new service has been fixed.
Caixin learned that the new function allows users to transfer money to multiple recipients and can help small businesses distribute reimbursements, bonuses or even paychecks to customers or employees. Market observers said the new service will allow Alipay to challenge the corporate paycheck services currently dominated by commercial banks.
An Ant Financial public relations officer said Fabei is not designed for payroll services, although an Alibaba source said the new product is still subject to changes based on feedback from test users.
Market analysts said there are potential opportunities for third-party payment providers to expand into paycheck services as banks often lack the incentives to work with small and microbusinesses, while payment providers are eagerly searching for new business to boost profit.