Alipay Mobile Payments May Make Rural Push With New Deal

April 20, 2018         By: Steven Anderson

There are a lot of pluses to living in the country. The peace and quiet is hard to top, as is the ability to find a lot of land comparatively inexpensively. Add in plenty of visible stars at night and you’ve got a recipe for greatness. Of course, there are problems; good luck finding decent internet access or many features almost taken for granted in urban settings. Rural economic development has been on a lot of minds for a long time, and a new deal may be coming to help, at least in China.

The deal in question is between Ant Financial, the group behind the Alipay mobile payments system, and the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD). The pair signed a Joint Declaration of Intent geared toward advancing rural economic development and reduce rural poverty not just in China, but also in other developing countries, according to reports sent our way from Ant Financial.

IFAD is actually an arm of the United Nations, which is geared mainly toward developing rural areas, a point not lost on Ant Financial, who likely sees plenty of opportunity out there in the Chinese countryside, where a lot of potential new customers await.

Ant Financial’s general manager for rural finance, Peng Bo, noted “We are pleased to be partnering with IFAD. By combining Ant Financial’s commitment to promoting digital inclusive finance and IFAD’s vision of every rural family living in dignity, we hope to leverage the power of technology and innovation to improve rural people’s livelihoods.”

It’s easy to forget about the countryside sometimes, especially given how spread out people are. Urbanites are low-hanging fruit, and there are often clusters of them that make them much easier to reach. There are large amounts of people out in the “flyover countries” of the world, and though they’re a little tougher to reach—just ask anyone who’s considered running fiber connectivity into the countryside—they’re still people with needs.

Still a market, still an audience, still a potential source of revenue. There’s a lot of reason to make a push into the countryside, and this latest move from IFAD and Ant Financial might well bring not only mobile payments but a host of other developments along with it.