Ant Financial Releases Key Component of Alipay Mobile Payments System

March 31, 2020         By: Steven Anderson

While the mobile payments experience we can see is often a simple and easy-to-use one, it’s what’s going on behind the scenes that should give us pause. Some of these systems are almost shockingly complex, to the point where even the components of mobile payments systems can have use and value beyond their originally-intended purposes. Our friends at Ant Financial—the parent company of Chinese mobile payments leader Alipay—tipped us off about one recent such move in the release of OceanBase as a software-as-a-service (SaaS) release.

OceanBase, for those not familiar, is Ant Financial’s relational database tool. It’s actually a major component of the infrastructure in Alipay, and has been used for years to help drive Alipay to prominence.

In fact, OceanBase is actually so valuable that it’s currently the highest-ranked piece of database software by the Transaction Processing Performance Council, an organization dedicated to establishing benchmarks and defining transaction processing for the broader mobile payments industry.

OceanBase’s capability came out of the 11.11 Global Shopping Festival, which has recently taken on a whole new importance in China. Sometimes called Singles Day, it actually represents more business than the entirety of the Thanksgiving shopping weekend, including Cyber Monday. The impact of OceanBase led to further developments, and Ant Financial has been running an initiative to put more of its products into financial institutions’ hands for nearly the last two years.

So far, Ant Financial has offered up over 100 different pieces of technology to financial institutions, and over 200 different institutions have taken Ant Financial up on the deal.

That’s a pretty good stretch; what it illustrates more than anything is that quality tools will be accepted by a broader ranging community. Given that Alipay’s tools have already been battle-tested by the Chinese economy—which often features a lot of people shopping at once since they have better than four times the population of the United States—putting these tools to use in smaller-reach markets is a smart idea. Any surge that market could come up with is almost certain to be overwhelmed by the oversized capacity that the Chinese app can handle.

While Chinese material isn’t exactly trusted on a lot of fronts these days, it’s a safe bet that Alipay’s databasing system will be a welcome addition to many financial institutions’ lineup. Assuming, of course, the customers are less than satisfied by the outcome.