It has been confirmed that Alipay, China’s largest mobile payment platform, is really going to roll out Alipay Everywhere function near the end of September and the beginning of October. Alipay released a video and launched the function, jokingly, on April Fool’s Day, 2015. However, it seems that Alipay is actually serious about the idea and has already been testing the function within Alipay.
According to the video, users could borrow toilet paper from people around, ask others for help to fix their computers or send flowers to girls they adore, all through the function “Alipay Everywhere”. Sounds interesting, isn’t it?
However, most internet users still find it amusing that Alipay really makes the function into reality. When we see this from a larger picture, however, we might find that there’s no much thing for Alipay to do. Since Alipay has failed to encourage users to build up social networks with acquaintances within Alipay, it has no choice but to turn to social networks with strangers.
Thus, if Alipay is really going to focus on social networks among strangers, what user scenarios could they depend on?
Now that mobile payment has already been so widespread, few people would bother to borrow paper money from strangers. Similarly, now that mobile map has also become very common on smartphones, few people wound still have to ask for directions. Following this logic, do people really need mobile ATMs to withdraw money when mobile payment has already been so common in people’s life.
Running errands & asking for help?
The idea to combine users’ data and location together and provide a combination of iShandong, 58.com and Didi’s services might come from Taobao Xianyu’s Fish Pond success. Alipay does possess large amount of users’ credit and consumption information, yet professionals have already been replacing ordinary people in providing all kinds of services in China. For example, China’s largest ride-hailing platform Didi is gradually nurturing its own drivers, while China’s largest crowdsourcing express company Dada is gradually nurturing its own deliverymen. Strangers matched by Alipay, however, might not be efficient and professional enough.
After all, a good credit history doesn’t necessarily mean professional capacity. If Alipay is really going to become a trustworthy exchange platform for professional skills, then it has to set up specific personnel to identify users’ skills, monitor and track their services. If so, however, Alipay will become too cumbersome as a mobile payment platform. Alipay does dream ambitiously, but the inconvenient truth is that, after all, it cannot include every possible function in a single platform.
Rich people nearby?
It is said that Alipay users will be able to see other people’s large-sum consumption record through the function and Comment, Like or Reward to interact with rich strangers nearby. However, I don’t find the function realistic at all. Maybe it’s just one way to get sensational and have people anticipating for its new functions.
Alipay has already been exploring ways to encourage users to build a social network outside of WeChat, yet all its efforts end up in failure. However, it is only after realizing that it can’t make any concrete progress in this area that Alipay begins to turn to strangers.
By meeting users’ physiological needs through LBS, Momo manages to make a room of its own. From this aspect, what Alipay tries to do it meet people’s life needs through LBS. However, people’s physiological needs seem to be higher than life needs.
While Tencent integrates professional services such as 58.com’s door-to-door service, into WeChat Wallet, Alipay is said to combine ordinary people together through life needs.
However, it seems to me that Baidu should be the most appropriate one to do such thing. After all, Baidu claims to possess unprecedented amount of users’ location information, just like Alipay possesses unprecedented amount of users’ consumption and credit history information.
Thus, my question is: why didn’t Baidu makes full use of its user location information and did so long before Baidu?
Alipay Everywhere's real competitor
Well, this has something to do with one of Baidu’s major problems: the lack of a complete user system. Although Baidu Map is the largest mobile map and navigation platform in China, it fails to depict a clear user portrait as did Tencent and Alibaba. Therefore, Baidu sticks to B2C life services and never dares to go beyond B2C and directly provide C2C service, as Alibaba is said to do with Alipay.
It follows that Alipay’s biggest competitor isn’t WeChat, but rather Baidu Map. At present, Baidu has also been integrating all kinds of services, including car-hailing and mobile payment, to Baidu Map in an attempt to establish an ecosystem within Baidu. However, WeChat, with a huge user base and a strong social network among acquaintances, could just sit on the sidelines and wait to see who wins at last.
If so, the competition between Alipay and Baidu Map will be more like the competition between the importance of users’ consumption information and location information.
However, if you think for a while your consumption habit, you might easily find the answer. For example, after you watch a film with the girl you adore and try to find a place to have dinner, will you open Baidu Map or Alipay first? As far as I am concerned, I use Alipay to pay the bill with discounts. In other words, Alipay is needed mostly near the end of people’s consumption behavior. Although it has been doing everything it could to move forward in the consumption cycle, users’ habbit won’t easily change as long as Alipay is still fundamentally a mobile payment platform.
I believe this is the fundamental reason why Alipay wants to go beyond B2C and allow C2C transactions. The success of Taobao Xianyu’s Fish Pond service, a location and credit history-based second-hand products exchange platform, must have boosted Alipay’s confidence a great deal. After all, now that location and credit history-based second-hand products exchange platform can succeed, why can’t other kinds of location-based service exchange platform repeat the success?
The only problem is it’s easy to standardize second-hand products and further build a platform for strangers to communicate, but not easy to standardize people’s various life needs, let alone to match people’s needs and skills.
As a matter of fact, the difficulty to standardize needs has already been proved to be nightmare for lots of O2O companies. Those O2O platforms who still dream of enabling user interaction through random exchange are more like developers and programmers’ imgination.
Some people might still believe that people would love to see other people’s consumption information and how much money strangers deposit or withdraw from their Alipay Yu’e Bao, while young girls would be interested in contacting with rich strangers who always have large-sum consumption record. However, the harsh truth is that few people would bother to look at other people’s consumption record. While Momo’s users would love to see strangers’ face, iShanSong’s users can see deliverymen’s order pickup volume and satisfactory degree to pick the deliverymen they want. Uber also boasts the opportunity for strangers to meet and make friends through shared ride once, but it turns out that all these promises have already shattered.
[The article is published and edited with authorization from the author @Zhang Yuan, please note source and hyperlink when reproduce.]
Translated by Levin Feng (Senior Translator at PAGE TO PAGE), working for TMTpost.