China’s Alipay Has 700 Million Registered Accounts, Beats Paypal?

Two weeks ago I was at Alibaba’s HQ in Hangzhou. One thing that caught my eye was its data room which is dominated by a big screen filled with real-time data about its products, including Taobao, Alibaba.com, Alipay, and all its users.

I took a picture of the Alipay’s data screen, as seen below, which has lots of neat visualizations. I have also included my English translation within the picture to make it understandable.

alipay-score-board
alipay-score-board

Note that the data screen shows that Alipay has a whopping 700 million registered accounts. Obviously, that doesn’t translate to 700 million unique users and Alipay declined to comment on the ratio of active users despite several pressing attempts. But it’s quite fair to say that Alipay’s active accounts figure, I believe, should be ahead of Paypal’s 113 million active accounts figure. But in terms of global reach, Paypal surely has the upper hand with users spanning across 190 markets.

While it’s understandable that folks within mainland China do use Alipay, I’m kinda surprised that the Chinese payment service is somewhat popular in Taiwan too. According to the pictured data, Taiwan roughly has about two million Alipay users which is about ten percent of its total internet population - not too bad of a result. An Alipay rep explained to me:

Many overseas Chinese including people in Taiwan have started to shop on Taobao. In addition, there is also a large population of Taiwanese working in mainland China and shopping on Taobao. That’s why Alipay is quite popular among Taiwanese people.

Besides providing online shopping payments, Alipay also supports peer-to-peer money transfers, pay utility bills, credit cards, cable TV subscription bills - all of which make it quite a convenient online payment solution to have in greater China.

On a related note, its main rivals include Tencent’s Tenpay - which yesterday added support for social payments on its WeChat app.

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