Earlier today, Ant Financial, the Alibaba Group affiliate that operates Alipay, China’s largest online payment platform, said that it had taken a minority stake in mobile security technology startup V-Key to beef up the safety of its products as it prepares to expand overseas. Just a few hours later, Alipay announced that it has opened an office in Sydney, Australia to help promote Australian products to Chinese consumers.
Alipay already has presence in other countries including South Korea, Singapore, London, Luxembourg, U.S. and Hong Kong, but its Sydney office is notable because of China and Australia’s economic importance to each other.
According to the Australian Department of Foreign affairs, China is Australia’s largest two-way trading partner. In 2013, trade between the two countries amounted to $150 billion AUD (about $130.8 billion). Furthermore, $95 billion AUD (about $82.7 billion) in Australian products were exported to China last year.
Alibaba’s official blog says Alipay’s Australian office will help local businesses access Alipay’s cross-border payment services. For example, this includes a page on Alibaba Group’s Taobao, the largest consumer-to-consumer marketplace in China, dedicated to promoting Australian food products. Merchandise will be sourced by Zoyu Digital, a Melbourne-based company, and distributed by Chinese logistics provider Sinotrans. China and Australia recently signed a free trade agreement which will remove tariffs from Australian dairy and beef industries imported into China.
Alipay also recently helped Australia’s national post service set up a store on Tmall, its online business-to-consumer marketplace, to sell wine, organic maternity wear, and skincare products. The Australia Post and Alipay have also worked together to make Alipay Purchase Cards available in 4,400 retail outlets. Australian consumers can use them to add money to Alipay accounts and pay for goods on Tmall and Taobao.
One of the reasons Alipay took a stake in V-Key is to strengthen the security of its online finance products as it expands into overseas markets.
Alipay wants to grow its business beyond its online payments platform with a new vertical called ePass, which allows Chinese shoppers to buy things directly from overseas sites using Alipay Wallet’s mobile app. Fourteen million Chinese consumers currently make up nearly 78 percent of the total amount of people who make overseas purchases, and spent $16.7 billion in 2013, almost half the value of all cross border online sales, according to Nielsen. Alipay is eager to make sure most of them use their products for transactions. Of course, it goes the other way—Alipay also stands to benefit substantially if international shoppers and SMBs use Alipay to process payments to Chinese vendors.