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Policy change in China helps potential Alipay & Apple Pay hook up

中国向境外机构开放支付系统,或将推动支付宝与苹果联姻.jpg


China’s decision to allow Visa, Mastercard and other foreign processors into the country is also good news for Alipay and Apple Pay.

中国决定对Visa、万事达和境外其他支付处理机构敞开大门,这对支付宝和苹果Apple Pay而言也是个好消息。

The idea of an Alipay and Apple Pay partnership in China —suggested by Jack Ma this week—didn’t make a lot of sense when he said it.

上周,马云提出要让支付宝和苹果支付在中国合作,不过当时他的这个提议显得并不合理。

Alipay is China’s most popular online payment system used for online purchases including Taobao orders, paying utility bills, movie tickets, and other shopping sites. It is not like Visa, Mastercard, or China’s own UnionPay, which have a network of tens of thousands of merchants and swipe stations. Walk around Beijing or Shanghai and you’ll see plenty of signs for UnionPay, the state-owned processor that enjoys a monopoly within China, and barely any for Alipay.

支付宝是中国当下最热门的在线支付系统,人们用它支付淘宝上的订单,缴纳物业费,购买电影票,还可在其他购物网站上消费。然而,支付宝的地位与拥有数万个商家和刷卡网络的Visa、万事达或中国银联不尽相同。漫步在北京或者上海的街头,你会发现银联的标志随处可见——作为国有支付处理机构,银联在中国具有垄断地位——而支付宝的标志却寥寥无几。

Apple’s new Apple Pay, meanwhile, is a mostly physical experience. You forgo the hassle of swiping a credit card at the cash register for the ease of touching the iPhone’s home button at two hundred thousand locations that have signed on with Apple. Yes, it has an online component that makes online shopping easier, but its allure is the physical component, just as Alipay’s allure is online.

与此同时,苹果的新产品——苹果支付——更多的是一种实地体验。你无需在结账柜台刷卡,而只需在与苹果签约的20万家门店内,轻松按下iPhone的home键就能完成付款。是的,苹果手机上的在线组件让在线购物变得更方便了,但它的关键还是物理组件,而支付宝的特色则是在线支付。

Late Wednesday, China’s State Council, the Communist Party’s 35-member policy board led by Premier Li Keqiang, announced China would open its payment system to foreign companies like Visa, Mastercard, and American Express, which it had long discriminated against. It might have well have added Alipay, which has also been disadvantaged. China has blocked foreigners for more than a decade from issuing their own cards and forced them to use UnionPay’s network, handing over a cut of the fees. During that time, UnionPay grew into a full-blown monopoly.

上周三,由李克强总理领导的中国国务院宣布,中国将对Visa、万事达和美国运通等国外公司开放支付系统。一直处于弱势地位的支付宝也有可能位列其中。十多年来,中国一直禁止这些公司发放自己的银行卡,强迫他们使用银联网络并缴纳费用。在此期间,银联成长为一家羽翼丰满的垄断巨头。

Alipay has similarly faced off against UnionPay. Last August, Alipay abruptly said it shut down its offline point-of-sales service—the limited physical locations it had—for “obvious reasons” after UnionPay said Alipay’s transactions must be integrated into its network. It was a bold power grab, but one with state support.

支付宝在面对银联时遭遇了类似困境。去年8月,在银联表示支付宝的交易必须纳入银联网络后,支付宝突然宣布,由于“明显的原因”,将关闭线下销售点的服务——尽管数量非常有限。

“Alipay decided to quit offline payments altogether because it does not want to subject itself to UnionPay’s control,” China’s business magazine Caixin quoted a source saying at the time.

中国商业媒体财新当时引用了一个消息源的说法:“支付宝决定彻底退出线下支付领域,因为它不想受到银联的控制。”

Jack Ma stopped short of submitting to UnionPay’s rules when it came to online payments, however, because the stakes were too big. Alipay handled almost half the $900 billion online payments in China last year, according to iResearch.

在在线支付领域,马云并没有受到银联的管控,因为这块蛋糕太大了。研究公司iResearch的数据显示,去年中国在线支付的总额达到9,000亿美元,其中几乎一半都是通过支付宝完成的。

Ma’s suggestion of an Apple Pay partnership, knowing a policy change would help it advance, looks prescient. An Alibaba spokeswoman declined comment.

马云似乎在官方发布消息之前就已经知道政策即将变化,因此才提出了和苹果支付合作的建议。阿里巴巴的发言人拒绝对此发表评论。

Even though China’s government is intent on allowing foreigner card companies, and by extension Alipay, into the market, it will be years before any build scale to compete with UnionPay, which has tens of thousands of agreements with stores, restaurants, and shops.

即便中国政府有意让外国银行卡公司甚至支付宝都进入市场,但它们要成长到足以同银联竞争仍需要好几年时间。后者已经与成千上万家超市、餐厅和商铺签订了合作协议。

The first conversations Apple had about coming to China happened with UnionPay. But the negotiations have been slow to form. For now, Apple Pay is deactivated on iPhones sold in China. Caixin has reported that negotiations are still advancing.

就进入中国的问题,苹果首先选择与银联展开对话。但磋商的进展十分缓慢。到目前为止,苹果支付功能仍然未能在中国的iPhone上启用。据财新报道,双方仍在洽谈。

It may be that the potential tie up between Jack Ma and Apple has little to do with China. “What Alibaba may be trying to do is…gain entry into the huge U.S. offline retail market and in return integrate Apple Pay into Alibaba’s online footprint from app stores to online retail stores in China,” says Neil Shah, who tracks the China mobile market for Counterpoint Research.

马云和苹果公司的潜在合作可能与中国关系不大。Counterpoint Research公司的尼尔•沙哈负责研究中国的移动市场,他表示:“阿里巴巴想做的,可能是进入美国巨大的线下零售市场。作为回报,阿里巴巴的在线产品将植入苹果支付功能,借此将其从苹果应用商店带入中国的在线零售商店。”

Apple doesn’t need Alipay and Alipay doesn’t need Apple. But at least now it’s clearer how they would work together.

苹果并不是非得和支付宝合作不可,而支付宝也不是“非君不嫁”。但至少,双方可能的合作方式现在变得更明晰了。

2016-06-23

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