LFP235 – Fintech in China, Super-Apps and Alipay w/Eva Zhang CEO Alipay UK

Although the title is apparently three-fold re episode topic the Chinese Fintech market is very different from other markets we have touched upon so far and one that we definitely need to dive into. You will have heard of Alipay but may not know that as long as a decade ago they overtook Paypal to become the worlds largest online/mobile payments platform. They serve an astonishing over 1.3bn users and 80m merchants. Which is impressive. Furthermore – to the super-app point in a radically different marketplace their app – a Super-App, back to the title – doesn’t just do payments but a wide range of functionalities including ride sharing, travel bookings and medical appointments

Like much (all?) in China history goes a long way back. Alipay were founded nearly 20 years ago by Jack Ma as part of the Alibaba Group but later split off. Eva Zhang is CEO of Alipay UK and guides us through this large landscape today.

China is itself either the world’s largest economy or second or about to be first or some such. Even if China isn’t the world’s largest or largest Fintech market I recall Peter Renton founder of Lendit some 5 years ago on this podcast giving us an overview of Fintech around the world (as his conferences covered the world, one annual event being in China) saying that if you wanted to know the future of Fintech just go to China.

So a must-know set of topics for Fintechers. Topics discussed include:

  • my appearance on a plaque in the Beijing Babaoshan Revolutionary Cemetery
  • China as a hugely complex place varying much over geography whether people, language or cuisine
  • Eva’s experience as a native born Chinese of this variation
  • Eva’s career starting in tech and working in Tokyo, Hong Kong, Singapore, Shanghai, New York, London
  • mixing ~inscrutability of culture with sheer practical focus and being good at business
  • ANT Group’s difference from non-Chinese Fintech firms
  • Alipay’s origins some 20 years ago in, like Paypal, solving the challenges of ecommerce payments, however thence moving on to solve other customer needs without excess respect for, as it were, the Finance silo although including products such as BNPL et al
  • China’s long history of innovation
  • WeChatPay story
  • evolution as the driving force along with a relentless focus on execution and solving practical problems
  • different FS institutional structures on banking in China compared to the west leading to very different outcomes for Fintech
  • key geographic areas of importance for Fintech in China
  • structure of FS/Fintech regulation in China compared to America
  • in terms of understanding the market it is less about sectoral themes (Product push perhaps?) and more about consumer needs (demand pull perhaps)
  • evolution through payments being core product, then interest accounts and investments and micro-loans/BNPL
  • the Super-App as key
  • Eva’s app experience of London needs versus in China needs – the radically different approach
  • mini-programs
  • getting married on Alipay (!)
  • is the Alipay App internationalised or Chinese-centric?
  • Alipay Plus in the UK
  • open banking in China?
  • big areas of investment in China Fintech
  • planting trees using the Alipay app
  • the future of Fintech in China
  • Alipay’s direction
  • LLMs
  • over 20 offices outside China
  • email contact details for Alipay internationally – globalcomms@antgroup.com
  • the Zheng He Treasure ships

And much much more 🙂

Share and enjoy!