Blockchain Remittance Service Launched By Alibaba Payment Affiliatebr>
Chinese online payment services provider Ant Financial has launched a blockchain money remittance service.
Ant Financial is an affiliate company of Chinese Internet giant Alibaba. It operates Alipay, the world’s largest mobile and online payments platform, as well as Yu’e Bao, a money-market fund. Alipay claims it operates with more than 65 financial institutions, including Visa and MasterCard, to provide payment services for Taobao and Tmall, as well as more than 460,000 online and local Chinese businesses. Alipay, together with its global partners, claims to have about 870 million annual active users globally.
The new blockchain money remittance service will run between Hong Kong and the Philippines through a partnership between AlipayHK and mobile money service GCash. Standard Chartered bank will act as the settlement bank, with all three parties to the transaction acting in parallel over a shared ledger, enabling the verification and execution of the payment to occur simultaneously.
Philippines is the world’s third largest remittance market with inflows of $33 billion in 2017. Hong Kong is among the top markets for overseas Filipinos in East and Southeast Asia, alongside Malaysia and Singapore. The new service will provide round-the-clock, real-time money transfer between the two countries at a competitive exchange rate with much lower transaction fees, which will be further waived during an initial three-month trial period.
“What used to be a long process of physically going to a remittance booth, queuing in line for hours and filling out forms, is now easily and securely done over the mobile phone in just a few seconds,” said Jennifer Tan, CEO of Alipay Payment Services (HK).
Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma said Ant Financial aims to eventually cut the cost of remittances to near zero.
“This comes from a promise I made long time ago when Alipay was just launched,” Ma said. “I have friends who are Filipino and they asked me when they could use Alipay to send money home because it was too expensive through banks, which charge too much.”
Ma also said that he wants to make it possible for people to remit even 1 cent at almost no cost, compared with the high fees charged by traditional remittances services like MoneyGram, which Ant tried to buy last year.
“At the time we wanted to [buy] MoneyGram and overhaul it to help people all over the world solve this issue,” Ma said. “Due to reasons from the US, our deal with MoneyGram did not succeed, so I said, ‘Let’s make one better [than MoneyGram]’ that uses the most advanced technology.”