China's Ant Financial targets brand boost in SEAsia with helloPay deal

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All of the operations of helloPay, which was the payments platform of online retail services provider Lazada since November 2014, have been rebranded as Alipay in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, Thailand and the Philippines.

This move comes as no surprise, especially since Alibaba holds a controlling stake in Lazada, which just so happened almost a year ago.

For the time being, Ant Financial seems content to get Lazada customers used to the name Alipay.

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However, the new localised Alipay platforms in the region aren't compatible with the main Alipay platform.

This merger follows Ant Financial's keenness to spread globally.

Ant Financial has already had significant success with Alipay in China, and is clearly looking to reproduce the app's achievements in Southeast Asia.

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"There will be no impact to helloPay's users and payment partners". The firm says all of its features and services remain unchanged and the rebranded HelloPay will remain separate from the Alipay app. Because of this merger, helloPay has now been rebranded as Alipay Singapore, Alipay Malaysia, Alipay Indonesia and Alipay Philippines in the respective markets.

Alipay, from ecommerce giant Alibaba, has a whopping 450 million users in China, who use their phones to pay friends, buy stuff online, and even offline at restaurants and merchants. Alipay Singapore will still function as an alternative payment method on Lazada.

It was introduced to offer tourists from China an alternative payment method that they were more familiar with.

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Ant Financial's experience getting historically underbanked and unbanked consumers in China to migrate to digital payments systems is likely to translate well to markets in Southeast Asia with large populations and little traditional banking exposure.

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