Cashless payments could become the new normal in China | Source: Shutterstock

Stripe’s global partnership with Alipay, WeChat Pay opens up China to the world

STRIPE, the online payments company popular with e-commerce entrepreneurs and software developers, has announced a global partnership with Alipay and WeChat Pay to connect China’s massive consumer market with merchants all around the world.

The service was launched on Sunday to give merchants outside the People’s Republic an easy way to accept online payments by integrating Stripe’s unified API, Sources. Merchants on this platform will now be able to expand easily into the Chinese market which has previously been largely inaccessible due to expensive transaction processes.

According to a statement from Stripe, merchants working with the company’s dashboard can already activate payment options and make them available to Chinese consumers. Stripe’s payment option could potentially open up whole new markets and business opportunities for complex business models—including SaaS companies and those companies charging through subscription—to become easily chargeable.

Stripe is moving aggressively into Asia and other untapped markets for payments. Their global deal with Alipay and WeChat Pay coincides with its expansion into Hong Kong. The business is currently focused on offering immediate support for merchants looking to incorporate Alipay and WeChat Pay into their business models, though they have not ruled out future expansion into other markets and businesses in Southeast Asia.

Piruze Sabuncu, Stripe’s head of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong. Source: Stripe

“We launched these global strategic partnerships with Alipay and WeChat Pay to enable businesses around the world to access the vast Chinese consumer market,” said Piruze Sabuncu, Stripe’s head of Southeast Asia and Hong Kong.

“We are actively looking at a number of markets in Southeast Asia and look forward to making Stripe available to more Southeast Asian businesses in the near future.”

“Stripe aims to build a unified infrastructure for the internet economy,” John Collison, Stripe’s president and co-founder, said in a statement. Stripe was founded back in 2010 by Collison and his brother, Patrick, as a technology-driven alternative that allows merchants in 25 countries to accept digital payments. The company charges a fee for every transaction processed on its platform.

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China’s consumer market is massive, clocking about US$750 billion worth of sales in 2016. However, many global e-commerce players, particularly small, regional businesses, have little ability to tap into the market largely because they don’t support payments via Alipay and WeChat Pay, which have become the preferred payment options by the country’s smartphone-savvy population.

Stripe’s checkout flow will give Chinese consumers the option to purchase using the platform of their choice. Source: Stripe

Today, WeChat Pay and Alipay collectively control around 92 percent of the overall market share of the mobile e-wallet system in China. Stripe’s partnership with the two companies could signal a significant sea change for online commerce, unlocking a customer base previously untouchable to them for an affordable price.

“If you are an internet business this unlocks a new vast customer base,” said John Collison to Reuters.

“In our aim to get to a global cashless society, Alipay has evolved from a digital wallet into a global lifestyle enabler for Chinese consumers and travelers far beyond Chinese borders,” said Souheil Badran, Alipay’s North American president in a statement.

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This isn’t the first time Stripe has worked with Alipay—the two companies previously partnered to enable US merchants to integrate with the payment service, which is an arm of Ant Financial. This deal marks Stripe’s first partnership with WeChat Pay, which will remain in beta-mode for the foreseeable future.