Chinese Mobile Payments Leader Alipay Readies Support for Wuhan Businesses

April 14, 2020         By: Steven Anderson

While we’re frantically trying to dig out from under the disaster that is the Wuhan virus, it’s easy to forget about Wuhan itself, where the whole thing got started way back in January. Though that seems like a lifetime ago, almost, it’s only just starting to turn around in China and beyond. To that end, Alipay recently tipped us off about a series of measures it’s looking to undertake to help the city of Wuhan get back on its collective feet.

First, Alipay is lending a hand with marketing. Since Alipay has around 900 million users to its credit, it’s able to help point a lot of potential customers in certain directions. It’s set up a special section on its landing page, giving users the ability to locate certain kinds of merchants in Wuhan, according to location and available product. Plus, users can place orders for said products directly from the Alipay app itself.

Additionally, Alipay is kicking in some cash, offering loans under the Zero Contact campaign set up with itself and MY bank, an online-only bank that’s run by Alipay’s parent company Ant Financial. MY bank intends to offer loans at no interest for the first month, while Hubei merchants outside Wuhan itself will be able to get loans at 20 percent off normal rates.

Ant Financial CEO Simon Hu noted “In every hardship, there lies an opportunity to envision and create a brighter future. We firmly believe that, after the COVID-19 outbreak, service providers who are able to tap into the power of digital technologies will come out the strongest. We are committed to supporting SMEs and will continue to provide leading digital technology solutions to support the recovery of small businesses and help them prepare for the future.”

The marketing and loans offered should be helpful; after all, businesses closed for an extended period will need to restock, and that means a lot of money going out without immediate sales to bolster it. The sales will need to follow in short order, and the marketing support should help considerably on that front.

Essentially, Alipay is doing quite a bit to help out restarting business in Wuhan. About the only thing it isn’t doing—that might be a good idea—is offering direct incentives to shoppers themselves. Just because the potential buyers know where to shop, and can find shops open, doesn’t mean they’ll buy, especially if they’re not feeling particularly great about their own economics going forward. A little help on the buyer side might be just what’s needed to tip the balance forward.