On March 10, Ant Financial, the affiliate fintech company of Alibaba, announced the upgrading of its Alipay online payment solution to an open platform for lifestyle services. It also set the goal of helping 40m merchants to go digital with support from 50,000 independent software vendors in the coming three years.
The upgrade has been brewing for a long time. Started as a platform for financial services only in 2004, Alipay made its intention of expanding beyond its financial services focus very clear through an ad aired on China’s Central Television with the theme of “Good Life, Alipay” in July 2019. It has even changed its slogan of “Pay with Alipay” to “Live @ Alipay".
The coronavirus (Covid-19) outbreak came as an unexpected catalyst. As people were stuck at home for the purpose of virus containment, offline services providers took an unprecedented hit, while online services such as on-demand delivery, online education and live shopping saw spikes in demand as they were widely embraced by consumers.