While Ant avoids U.S. consumers, it aggressively pursues U.S. businesses

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Ant Financial has downplayed its interest in making its popular Alipay mobile payment app available to U.S. consumers, but it has no such reservations about American business clients.

Calling it the largest B2B trading platform in the world, Alibaba Group has opened Alibaba.com to small and medium-size U.S. businesses to reach an addressable market of $23.9 trillion.

Alibaba is improving transaction capabilities and including online payments for American businesses, and will support a digital store on the global platform. For buyers, Alibaba says the site will provide access to a "growing number of U.S. based supplier options" on a us.alibaba.com landing page, in addition to thousands of global suppliers.
"With 10 million active business buyers in over 190 countries and regions, we are reshaping B2B commerce by providing the tools and services needed for U.S. companies to compete and succeed in today's global marketplace." said John Caplan, head of North America B2B at Alibaba Group, said in a Tuesday press release.

Alibaba will conduct webinars with chambers of commerce and B2B organizations across the U.S. to spark interest and educate businesses seeking to buy or sell products globally. It is also offering the option for U.S. sellers to work with Alibaba's U.S.-based sales team.

Alibaba has added U.S. partners to its B2B ecosystem in preparation of expanding its access, such as including BigCommerce, Indeed, ShipStation, SkuVault, TeamViewer, Wellbots and Xometry. Alibaba additionally partnered with Office Depot as an "anchor seller" on the platform to provide product catalogs for the buyers visiting the platform.

"By becoming an anchor seller, we can reach a larger small business audience and provide them with the products and services they need to compete on a global scale," Gerry Smith, CEO for Office Depot, said in the release.

Before the expansion of B2B payments and commerce through the Alibaba platform, the U.S. had mostly interacted with Ant Financial and its Alipay mobile payment system by having merchants in cities or towns considered tourist stops to accept the QR-code based system in their stores for visiting Chinese consumers. It also became a payment option at Walgreens, a chain of pharmacy stores seeking the business from those tourists.

In addition, Dallas-based money transfer provider MoneyGram expanded its partnership with Alipay, after Ant Financial's bid to acquire the company ran into political roadblocks as part of the trade dispute between the Trump administration and Chinese government.

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