Alipay Shows Off Its Sustainable Side in New Mobile Payments Report

May 21, 2019         By: Steven Anderson

Normally when we think of mobile payments, we think of them in terms of their ease of use, security, and other factors. Sometimes we even consider what they can offer in return, like rewards program benefits or the like. Ant Financial, Alipay’s parent company, dropped word our way about a point that we may not have considered in mobile payments: sustainability.

Alipay’s sustainability report reads like a laundry list of corporate good deeds. Some of its points are undeniably good, like how it provided the resources needed to plant fully 100 million live trees through its Alipay Ant Forest program. Alipay Ant Forest opens up a kind of rewards program with an ecological focus, giving the 500 million who got involved in it the ability to reap “green energy” points by reporting behaviors like cycling or paying bills online.

Additionally, Alipay’s Love Donation Platform has allowed for 1.18 billion individual donations to take place, which has provided resources for 1,400 non-governmental organizations and charities to engage in their various activities. Its Xiang Hu Bao mutual aid platform offered its users a basic health insurance plan, giving over 50 million people access to healthcare. Chinese small businesses also got a boost, as 12 million of the 90 million unbanked or underbanked small businesses in the country got access to various financial services through the MYbank system.

Granted, that bit about banking access isn’t exactly the most groundbreaking news; it’s easy to think that Alipay’s primary competitor WeChat Pay has done quite a bit on this front itself by virtue of just existing. However, a hundred million trees can’t overstate things; that’s a lot of trees no matter who you are. Reports suggest that a single acre of land can support up to 120 trees, depending on the type, so even if you really simplify the math you’re talking around a million acres’ worth of trees. That’s roughly enough trees to cover New York City with trees five times over.

So even if Alipay’s good is being overstated for the sake of the press impact here, it’s still delivered a whole lot of objective impact, and shown us all that mobile payments can deliver some real sustainability benefits on top of literally all the others.