Alibaba is reportedly upping its game in India, on the heels of its half-billion-dollar investment in Paytm in May.
There are now indications that Alibaba has invested the equivalent of an additional $1 billion in MicromaxIndia's largest handset makerand Snapdeal, India's second-largest e-commerce firm, according to a report in Want China Times. The report states that both investments happened in "the past two weeks."
Given the focus Alibaba and its payments affiliate, Ant Financial Services, have placed on mobile payments, the Micromax move makes perfect sense (Ant operates the prominent Alipay service). With Apple Pay pushing itself globally, the standard in mobile payments is shifting from an app-based model to one that is designed into the handset itself.
The Snapdeal e-commerce move is also complementary to Alibaba's strategy, as it focuses on attracting merchant support with a focus on moving sales from mobile to in-store or home delivery. Alibaba's deal with KFC China last month further illustrates this approach.
"The cooperation with KFC China signifies the milestone on how Alipay will revamp offline payments across the country and we are working closely with KFC China to provide better deals and services for customers," said Fan Zhiming, president of Ant Financial's payments business.
A recurring theme among U.S. retailers exploring mobile payments is to go beyond the payments mechanisms that were in place before e-commerce. In huge markets such as India and China, the environment is different as mobile is not replacing plastic cards as much as leapfrogging right past them.