A Dialogue With Jing Xiandong: Why Alipay Is Becoming “Bloated”?
摘要： Alipay is no doubt becoming more comprehensive, or, according to some, more bloated. In today’s business world, companies rarely provide such comprehensive products or services anymore. Alipay itself is a financial service, and now it also has technical support services, including a data platform. So, what will Alipay become in the end?
Recently on the Ant Financial’s sharing day conference, Liu Xiangming, publisher of Business Value and co-founder of TMTpost, had an in-depth dialogue with Ant Financial’s president Jing Xiandong.
In this dialogue, TMTpost mainly focused on discussing about Alipay’s unpredictable future and current changes. Many people might have already realized that Alipay is integrating more services and functions than ever. In other words, Alipay is now bloated. Ant Financial’s businesses are becoming more comprehensive and diverse. In today’s business world, companies rarely provide such comprehensive products or services anymore. Alipay itself is a financial service, and now it also has technical support services, including a data platform. That being said, Ant Financial’s target audience not only includes ordinary consumers, but also small-sized companies.
Jing Xiandong believes that ever since its birth, Ant Financial has always carried business altruism in its gene. Ant Financial’s changes can be put in the perspectives of new economy and new finance to better understand them: the tendency of consuming, financial management for ordinary people, and insurance, and disruptive and revolutionary forces, are transforming traditional economy to new economy and finance.
From where Jing Xiandong is standing, although Ant Financial seems to be covering many areas such as payment, financial management, insurance, credit etc., the company actually has only one goal, that is to act as a supporter and help its business partners and serve ordinary consumers and small-sized companies. The problem is now Alipay is integrating more and more functions, which makes the interface more complicated than the past. Eventually it makes a percentage of users feel uncomfortable and confused when using Alipay and causes them to think that Alipay has become bloated.
So what kind of an enterprise Ant Financial really wants to become? What follows is the transcript of the in-depth discussion between Jing Xiandong and Liu Xiangming, edited by TMTpost:
Liu Xiangming: I am particularly interested in one thing: now Ant Financial is building an ecosystem, but from the past experience in business, no company had ever successfully built a framework of an ecosystem in such a short time. So how will Ant Financial design and build an ecosystem on its own?
Jing Xiandong: To be clear, we have never really said that we were going to build an ecosystem of any sort. In my opinion, it’s a natural process. Ant Financial started from Alibaba. In that case we naturally inherited the altruism thinking from Alibaba.
Alibaba’s mindset was simple back then. We believed that every business goal was achievable, and we just had to find the right way to make it come true. From the very first day, our mission has been helping small and medium-sized companies, or in other words, help others become successful. This is a very crucial part, and therefore Ant Financial takes after this thinking. Altruism thinking urges us to help middle and medium-sized companies develop better, get funding, and find more business opportunities. Even today’s financial service sector has many demands, as well as the target audience. Whether it’s financial management, payment, or other different perspectives, all these demands have one single solution, that’s altruism. We use altruism thinking to create relevant products.
Then we started to consider putting financial management service on Alipay. Up till now, Alipay has formed the technical capability of Internet finance after years of operation. In that case, if we can utilize these advantages we have garnered, we would be able to help partners in out ecosystem better serve our users.
Therefore, our starting point is not the ecosystem, but consumers. We want our consumers to see how we are building an ecosystem and use the ecosystem we have built to provide users with better services and solutions to their problem. I believe it’s a natural process.
Liu Xiangming: Ant Financial’s business logic is a bit confusing. What exactly is the logic relation between these business lines?
Jing Xiandong: A lot of people have mentioned this question before, and to figure out the answer first we have to understand the core of our businesses is the users, meaning users’ needs drive value. Ever since the launch of Alipay, the core issues we have been dealing with have always been trust between users on e-commerce platforms and how to satisfy users. Satisfying users was the main force that drove innovation. We then gradually realized that businesses couldn’t find solutions to their funding problems from the financial organizations back then. At that time, when you were trying to get financing, you would have to go through complicated assessment process.
However, many business owners didn’t have those things required for the assessment. So just like I have said before, we were just trying to help these people. This process eventually led Ant Financial to where it is now. It’s natural. Today we have brought forth scenario finance to follow the tendency. It’s also another move to meet users’ demands.
To put it in perspective, the scenario finance we are talking about here serves ordinary consumers. In different scenarios, users have different needs, and these needs are very specific. So we want the whole commercial process to fuse with the payment function. That’s when we realized that we could still make the user experience better. We don't need to separate payment function from commercial functions, or trading and risks. It should be an integrated process. In this case the scenario finance we are talking about now is actually finance that serve actual users and businesses.
Liu Xiangming: Today you mentioned about the Internet stimulator. What real life problems and needs does it adjust?
Jing Xiandong: We found that in today’s financial ecosystem, there are just too many different financial organizations. In my opinion, every financial organization has their own strengths and understanding of their products in the field of finance. However, if we just talk about the product itself, we will find that these companies rarely build their products based on users’ needs. Just then an insurance company representative came to talk to us about the Internet stimulator project, saying that we need to collaborate in order to help ordinary consumers and small-sized companies in this ecosystem.
Since the ecosystem is above and bigger than any individual, person or company, it gives us incentives. Secondly, we believe new technologies will be of extremely useful when it comes to upgrading services and products to better serve users. This is one of our common goals.
Liu Xiangming: Ant Financial appears to be a very strange enterprise, because in today’s business world, companies rarely provide such comprehensive products or services anymore. Alipay itself is a financial service, and now it also has technical support services, including a data platform. You just mentioned that Ant Financial has final consumers as well as small-sized companies. So in your opinion, what kind of company Ant Financial is?
Jing Xiandong: This is a really good question. First I want to say that technology and finance have become connected. They both have a profound impact on each other. Due to technological advancements, financial services that seemed to be impossible to provide now have become a reality.
The mobile Internet enables us to reach more users. Many people have the wrong perception on Internet finance, thinking that it only means financial services provided by an Internet company. That’s not the story at all. Internet financial companies should be comprehensive. Whether it’s Internet companies or financial organizations, they are all using Internet technologies and Internet thinking to run their businesses. You might ask: what is Internet thinking? Well, it is all about user-centric, share, transparency and openness. I believe these are the things that Internet thinking conveys.
In recent years, Internet thinking has been a great influence on everyone. Besides Internet thinking, Internet technology has also affected our lives a lot, deep to the root. Today everyone talks about the mobile Internet more or less. The mobile Internet has become the link between friends, society, business partners and basically, everything. This is something we have never seen before. It completely changed the way we communicate.
The ability to manage data also matters, because this ability allows companies to better identify risks and manage risks. With data, you are provided with another way to observe your consumers as well.
At last I want to talk about cloud computing. Cloud computing technology allows us to optimize the trade cost. Just then, our chief architect has mentioned the Internet finance technical framework in his speech. And you will find that innovative products based on this framework could greatly increase efficiency, making a 90-day work to as short as a week. It’s a major change. In the past, it usually took a lot of staff and a long time, meaning, great cost, to come up with innovation. What situation could this lead to? Innovation cost was so high that you didn’t even dare to test the waters. But nowadays cloud computing technology of Internet finance has become a basic computing technology, and everything has changed because of that. This technology has a profound influence on the financial sector, bringing revolutionary changes forward.
Liu Xiangming: How Ant Financial positions itself in the financial sector?
Jing Xiandong: Today, in the development of new economy and finance, you will see two great changes, one of which is the whole economic background.
We have talked about the tendency of consuming, financial management for ordinary people, and insurance etc. before. And in fact there’s also another tendency, which is technological advancement. These two tendencies push the economy to transform to the new economy. What we do today is pretty clear, that is follow these two tendencies,
We believe that many of our partners and some financial organizations have a better understanding on some products than us. In their own areas they could understand the users better. That’s the core reason why we are building an ecosystem. We provide products and services of certain technologies and we wish to have more innovations with our partners to meet users’ needs. This is a win-win situation in which the whole system could be more efficient and players could grow together. We never want to be the dominating giant, but rather build an ecosystem where we can grow together and bring forth more and better services to ordinary users.
[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Guo Juan, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Garrett Lee (Senior Translator at ECHO), working for TMTpost.