Alipay continues to evolve from a platform that provides inclusive financial services to an open, vibrant digital ecosystem that offers users a gateway into a comprehensive digital lifestyle, right in the palms of their hands.
On March 10, Alipay announced a three-year plan to further open up its platform to support the digital transformation of 40 million service providers across China.
According to China’s Ministry of Industry and Information, as of 24 March 2020, almost 72% of Chinese small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have resumed work as they continue to digitalise their operations. Many businesses and consumers have been leveraging Alipay’s open digital lifestyle platform to resume work and life.
Consumer demand for digitalised services has been expanding rapidly. In 2019 alone, the number of searches for lifestyle services within the Alipay app increased to 300% compared with 2018.
On April 1, Caixin.com released its China General Manufacturing Purchasing Managers’ Index (PMI) report for March, noting that the seasonally adjusted PMI – a composite indicator designed to provide a snapshot of operating conditions in the manufacturing industry in China – increased from a record low of 40.3 in February to 50.1 in March. The report stated that the business conditions faced by Chinese manufacturers have broadly stabilised in March.
Food and catering
Amid the COVID-19 outbreak, Beijing-based grocery startup Meicai, which connects farmers with consumers and restaurants, launched a mini program to make its delivery services available to Alipay users. Within one week, the mini program attracted more than 800,000 new users and saw orders pour in from across 80 cities in China.
From 18 to 22 March, hotpot brands sold over 1.3 million meals within the span of five days through the Alipay platform, a 186% increase compared to the same period in February. Over the past few weeks, many hotpot brands have issued digital coupons, encouraging consumers to visit in person once the restaurants reopen.
An increasing number of milk tea shops are digitalising their operations following the COVID-19 outbreak. From 18 to 22 March, consumers purchased an average of over 1.08 million cups of milk tea per day via the brands’ mini programs on Alipay.
Health and beauty
Residents in major cities across China have been spending more on health and beauty services after the citywide lockdowns have been lifted. From 18 to 27 March, sales of dental health and medical beauty services increased by 3,000% compared to the previous ten days, with Shanghai, Nanjing and Beijing among the top three markets.
From18 to 27 March, the transaction volume of medical and health services on the Alipay platform increased by 1,600%, with physical examination services as the most popular category. In March, consumers who purchased physical examination services via Alipay were three times that of the same period last year.
Health 100, a physical examination chain, has resumed service operations in tier 1 cities across China. After participating in Alipay’s City Lifestyle Week campaign, Health 100 witnessed a 115% month-on-month increase in the sales of its physical examination services and approximately 100% year-on-year. Pre-employment physical examination has proven to be the most popular service among consumers.
On 20 March, the Ministry of Human Resources and Social Affairs launched a campaign to promote online hiring and recruitment, with Alipay as one of its inaugural partners.
And on 23 March, approximately 60,000 employers launched a virtual job fair together with Alipay. The job fair will last through the end of June, and is expected to attract over one million job seekers.
Various renowned employers are taking part, including electric appliance producers Haier and Gree, financial services provider Ping An Group, telecom operator China Unicom and Alibaba. Together, these employers are expected to provide over 100,000 job opportunities, spanning more than ten sectors, including internet, information technology, financial services, education and trading.
The online job fair is expected to optimise the job search and recruitment process. Job seekers can locate the job fair by searching for the term “good jobs (好工作)” in the Alipay platform and accessing the Campus Hiring mini program. There, candidates can peruse the profiles of all prospective employers as well as listed job opportunities and submit their resumes online.
According to the statistics from China's Ministry of Education, approximately 8.74 million students will be graduating from colleges and universities across China in 2020, an increase of 400,000 compared to last year. However, according to Zhang Ya'nan, the general manager of the Smart Education Business Department at Alipay, many employers have cancelled their offline job fairs because of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Alipay launched this online job fair to optimise and strengthen the recruitment process for graduates and employers alike during these uncertain times.
Alipay also launched a dedicated information session for graduates from Hubei Province, the epicenter of the outbreak and invited many SMEs to host similar events to help graduates from technical schools and vocational schools find job opportunities.
In addition to campus hiring, approximately 1.64 million people have found and secured flexible job opportunities via Alipay since the outbreak of COVID-19.
To stimulate domestic consumption and help consumers and businesses in need, local governments across China are distributing coupons via platforms such as Alipay. These electronic coupons are distributed by local authorities via Alipay and other online platforms, such as Alibaba’s travel service platform Fliggy and movie ticket booking platforms.
The consumption coupons can assume many forms and often take into consideration factors, such as local economic development, key commercial activities and consumer preferences. Different coupons are tied to different uses and discounts, and consumers can redeem their discounts directly via Alipay.
These coupons are usually distributed directly to local consumers. For instance, in Guangxi Province, Guangxi Consumption Coupons will be distributed to local consumers from 26 March to 26 May. Consumers living or travelling in Guangxi Province can apply for a certain amount of coupons within a dedicated timeframe every day. Consumers can redeem the coupons when they pay for items, either offline or online, using Alipay for dining, shopping, traveling, staying at hotels and more.
Hangzhou, the capital of Zhejiang Province, plans to distribute about $237 million (CNY 1.68 billion) worth of consumption coupons to support more than six million local offline merchants across sectors, ranging from retail to catering to stimulate consumption.
Beginning 27 March, Hangzhou will be distributing the first round of coupons – two million coupons valued at $7 (CNY 50) each – that customers can redeem when paying for items, either online or offline, using Alipay.
According to the data from the Hangzhou Municipal Bureau of Commerce, as of 10:00 PM on 30 March, approximately $5.8 million (CNY 41.12 million) worth of consumption coupons have been used and have directly generated consumption valued at approximately $89.7 million (CNY 637 million) in the city.
From 27 to 29 March, with the help of consumption coupons distributed via Alipay, sales at the retail chain Century Hualian increased significantly to reach over $8.5 million (CNY 60 million). Wu, a manager at Century Hualian Hangzhou, noted that the consumption coupons incentivised customers to purchase more high-value groceries, such as seafood and beef, in turn contributing to a considerable increase in sales.
According to Feng Ailin, general manager at Kasa-Miel, a bakery chain in Hangzhou, store sales increased 44% during the weekend of 28 March compared to the weekend before, with per customer transaction value exceeding about $6 (CNY 40).
Nanjing, the capital of Jiangsu Province, has distributed $44.8 million (CNY 318 million) worth of consumption coupons, including for catering, sports, books, rural tourism, information and welfare for low-income communities. These coupons provide discounts of either $7.04 (CNY 50) or $14.09 (CNY 100).
From 15 to 22 March, citizens in Nanjing could apply for these coupons through the local public service app "My Nanjing” and redeem discounts when issuing payments via Alipay.
Since March, over ten provincial and municipal governments have launched incentive programs to bolster the recovery of various sectors, including catering, culture and tourism and fitness.
Re-disseminated by The Asian Banker