Alibaba Funds Improvement Plans for Alipay Payment Service

Chinese Internet payment service Alipay aims to improve security and make its services easier to use as the company looks to expand over the next five years.

To fund improvements to Alipay's payment service, parent company Alibaba Group will invest 5 billion yuan (US$703 million) in the company over the next five years, Alibaba said in a statement released Monday. The funds will be used in several ways, including improvements to the security of its payment infrastructure, the development of payment products that are easier to use, to attract new customers, and to hire "top-tier talent from the payments industry," it said.

Alipay is a wholly owned subsidiary of Alibaba, one of China's largest e-commerce groups. The service is widely used in China, notably on Alibaba's Taobao e-commerce site, but is relatively unknown in the rest of the world.

Alipay executives hope to change that. Last year, Alipay President Shao Xiaofeng said the company needs to "globalize" its operations. As part of that effort, Alipay is working with Bank of China and China Construction Bank, which provide currency conversion services for cross-border transactions.

The investment from Alibaba is meant aims to boost Alipay by improving the level of trust and service that it offers users, steps that are seen as essential for the company to be competitive against domestic and multinational rivals, such as PayPal.

"A truly first-rate payment infrastructure must be one that offers unquestionable security and an excellent user experience," Alibaba's statement said.

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