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Alipay on educating US consumers with a unified payment experience

TheCurrent Innovators: Souheil Badran with Liz Bacelar
TheCurrent Innovators: Souheil Badran with Liz Bacelar

Chinese payments company Alipay is on a mission to wean US consumers off traditional payment behaviours. Creating an integrated experience is at the center of making that happen, Alipay’s president of the Americas, Souheil Badran, explained to Liz Bacelar on the latest episode of TheCurrent Innovators podcast.

“So far the whole US market has been so used to credit cards. And when you look at it from a tech perspective all the apps we use are in their own silos. They’re not connected at all,” says Badran, explaining that the Starbucks app is one of the few examples of an integrated experience based around the consumer’s lifestyle.

In order to achieve seamlessness, Badran hopes to see better collaboration with retail in what he calls the Uber experience – when getting from point A to B, the user no longer has to think about the payment aspect of it.

This everyday ease of use is already being achieved in China, where Alipay’s 520 million users have access to over 60 sub-applications integrated under the payment umbrella, creating a lifestyle ecosystem within the digital wallet that includes the ability to do things like pay peers and order a taxi.

But going beyond payments to create a larger sense of loyalty in this way in the US, means educating the consumers out of their comfort zone of just payments, Badran adds. “[Starting with the consumer], what are they looking for? What would make you go from just using your credit card, and what would attract you back to the app on a regular basis?”

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Badran wants to see Alipay reach the same level of interaction in the US, as it has achieved in Asia. Current users check their digital wallets 15-20 times a day, for instance. He hopes US consumers can get to that point, in the same way they already do with their social media channels. This would include creating experience-led features and promotions based on purchase history and other aggregated data, he notes.

Chinese Alipay consumers are also a big market for US retailers, which Badran has been working hard to evangelize on their value. “Back in 2013 when you talked about China in general, people understood the size, but couldn’t quite grasp the value of it. I have seen a tremendous shift over the last 12 months and hopefully it will continue to grow.” To target these users, Alipay is working with retailers in the US and Europe to ensure payment capabilities and promotions that intensify around peak travel seasons, such as Chinese New Year.

For millennial consumers, Alipay helps quickly build user credibility by leveraging data from previous purchases. This means a merchant that accepts the payment service can have visibility of the user’s track record, says Badran. He uses the example of purchasing at a luxury store, where Alipay can potentially extend the shopper’s credit on the fly – unlike a static credit card limit – depending on data such as previous repayments.

At present, over 150,000 merchants in North America accept Alipay as a form of payment. The future looks bright for the mammoth Asian company as it taps into the digital need for always-on convenience, as well as a demand for platforms that enable personalization and experience.

Catch up with all of our episodes of TheCurrent Innovators here. The series is a weekly conversation with visionaries, executives and entrepreneurs. It’s backed by TheCurrent, a consultancy transforming how consumer retail brands intersect with technology. We deliver innovative integrations and experiences, powered by a network of top technologies and startups. Get in touch to learn more.

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e-commerce mobile

Rebecca Minkoff partners with Alipay for NYFW

Alipay on display in the Rebecca Minkoff store
Alipay on display in the Rebecca Minkoff store

Rebecca Minkoff is paying attention to her Chinese fan base this New York Fashion Week, introducing in-store mobile payments via Alipay.

The initiative enables China shoppers to use their Alipay Mobile Wallet to make purchases at any Rebecca Minkoff store in the US, as well as at home when visiting the brand’s e-commerce site. Alipay is China’s leading online payment provider, with more than 520 million active users, and the primary means of online and mobile payment for Chinese consumers.

The partnership was announced ahead of Minkoff’s show, which took place in New York on Saturday, September 9.

“Chinese travelers represent an important and growing audience for Rebecca Minkoff,” said Uri Minkoff, CEO and co-founder of the brand. “By offering Alipay, we are ensuring that Chinese shoppers visiting any of our US stores or our website are met with an exceptional experience which includes the easiest and most familiar payment method for them. We are excited to be able to offer Alipay.”

Souheil Badran, president of Alipay North America, added: “By accepting Alipay, Rebecca Minkoff is able to target the right shopper through our Discover platform to ensure that the Chinese consumers can enjoy the best experience in-store or online without any language or payments barriers.”

The number of Chinese consumers visiting North America is predicted to grow to four million this year. Alipay first expanded its mobile payment service into the US in late 2016.

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What you missed: Blockchain, a lack of omnichannel leaders, fashion week immediacy

Blockchain in use at Shanghai Fashion Week
Blockchain in use at Shanghai Fashion Week

Despite the holiday countdown being truly underway, the past week’s top stories are less about the festivities and more to do with a look forward – whether it’s the launch of more tech-enabled stores or significant developments with the likes of drones and blockchain.

Also worth checking out is a view on fashion immediacy from Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger, some further uptake of chatbots and an overview on this year’s major fashion and beauty mergers.


TOP STORIES
  • Blockchain is being adopted beyond Bitcoin, from fashion to finance [JWT Intelligence]
  • Report: Few retailers are omnichannel ‘leaders’ [Retail Dive]
  • Burberry and Tommy Hilfiger: Lessons in fashion immediacy [BoF]
  • Why retailers stop selling online: the hidden cost of e-commerce [The Guardian]
  • Move over Singles’ Day: Alipay’s ’12.12’ event breaks records [Jing Daily]
  • Luxury and charity are like oil and water – they don’t mix well [LeanLuxe]

BUSINESS
  • Harvey Nichols profits tumble on aggressive revamp [The Telegraph]
  • Young, quick and very hip: Missguided and Pretty Little Thing hit the big time [The Guardian]
  • The year in major fashion and beauty mergers [Glossy]

SOCIAL MEDIA
  • Dove flips #MannequinChallenge in extension of Real Beauty campaign [The Drum]
  • How Stuart Weitzman is using WeChat to expand its Asian footprint [Glossy]
  • New Nordstrom mobile chatbot is ready to help shoppers find the perfect holiday gift [GeekWire]

RETAIL
  • How sporting giants Nike and Adidas are pushing the future of retail [Fortune]
  • L’Occitane ups technology in New York City flagship [Chain Store Age]
  • Victoria’s Secret invaded China’s digital space but is moving cautiously on retail [AdAge]

TECHNOLOGY
  • In major step for drone delivery, Amazon flies package to customer in England [NY Times]
  • Why AR will be bigger than VR [Venture Beat]
  • Bot until you drop: How artificial intelligence is changing the way we do our Christmas shopping [The Independent]
  • Fashion’s future, printed to order [NY Times]
  • Under Armour expands connected footwear line-up [Retail Dive]

START-UPS
  • The inside story behind Pebble’s demise [Backchannel]
  • How True & Co. modernised the bra shopping experience [Racked]