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Using technology and data to put people front and centre

Using technology and data to put people front and centre

All that Lucy Peng, CEO of Ant Financial, the parent company of AliPay, thinks about is consumer experience.

For innovation to thrive and enable seamless consumer experiences; government, business and entrepreneurs must collaborate.

At CommBank we collaborate with leading international fintech, trade, payments and regulation experts to understand disruptive technologies and megatrends that could improve the end-customer experience for the benefit of our clients. This way, Australian consumers can enjoy the same great experience that Chinese consumers experience with emerging payment technologies.

“We are driven not by how many transactions we make, but by making the consumer experience better and changing people’s lives through our platform,” Kiki Wu, Country Manager Australia and New Zealand at, explains.

As a panellist at our Emerging Digital Futures in Trade client event, Wu shared several insights into the rise of AliPay and its overhaul of consumer payment experience in China.

It’s all about convenience

“In many parts of China people don’t carry wallets any more, just their mobile phones,” said Wu.

“They order taxis, breakfast, lunch and coffee from an app, make hotel reservations using an app and pay utility bills from within an app. It is very convenient. It isn’t about payment anymore, but people’s daily life.”

Much of the meteoric rise of apps can be attributed to the cab-hailing services that emerged in 2012 which addressed a big problem in China – the difficulty of getting a taxi, particularly in peak hours. 

Competing head-on, two services invested heavily in marketing and incentives to attract new consumers. In just over 12 months everyone in China knew they needed an app to call a taxi and, naturally, payment was made within that app. The app could help them in a way that cash and credit cards couldn’t.

This expansion was pivotal to AliPay developing mobile wallets, as well as the many surveys detailing merchants and consumers’ pain points. With China’s payment infrastructure in its infancy, AliPay had an opportunity and responsibility to provide a better service and experience to consumers and small businesses. It built its own ecosystem to do this.

Success beyond China

Making payments while abroad wasn’t an issue for Chinese tourists but the lack of local information was. AliPay addressed this gap by providing Asian and Australian travellers with an app containing information about local deals and promotions, as well as the coupons that Chinese value so highly.

From its vast database, AliPay now has an accurate picture of the 450 million consumers in China who use its platform daily. It knows their home towns, their behaviours and what products they like. AliPay also knows which consumers are flying to Australia and which have already arrived, enabling it to send information from Australian merchants to these consumers.

If they still want Australian goods and services on their return to China, AliPay can communicate this to Australian merchants. The service has made AliPay enormously successful in Japan, Korea and South East Asia, favourite destinations of Chinese travellers.

Alibaba’s numerous e-commerce platforms also play an important role connecting consumers with the goods and services they want, in addition to giving businesses access to the huge Chinese market. There are around 30,000 Australian brands on Tmall, Alibaba’s business-to-consumer shopping platform.

Michael Eidel
Michael Eidel

Executive General Manager of Cash-flow and Transaction Services

Michael Eidel is Executive General Manager of Cash-flow and Transaction Services. His role is to lead the Group’s portfolio of working capital solutions for business and institutional clients. He’s also an executive sponsor for Commonwealth Bank’s innovation initiatives, including blockchain.