Asian firms set a payments innovation example for the world

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Alipay, now Ant Financial, is one of the biggest financial companies in the world and a case study in how platforms become deeply integrated into their customers' lives.

Alipay launched in 2014 as a payments platform for the popular Chinese marketplaces Taobao and Alibaba. Alipay’s market accessibility and ease of use was one of the drivers of its meteoric rise. Within a few years, the company claimed 83% of the local mobile payments market, according to CBInsights. Alipay now offers a far-ranging suite of services, including access to wealth management assistance, an insurance marketplace, and no-interest installment payments, among other products.

Although the Chinese market is unique, Ant Financial's success is instructive in the way it developed products that reach many different areas of their finances.
But it's hardly the only success story to come out of the Asia Pacific Region. Grab overcame Uber in Southeast Asia by embracing local payment and financial infrastructure, and has now emerged to become one of the region’s largest providers of alternative financial services. Grab provides drivers with access to products such as micro-insurance and working capital loans, as well as helping them purchase cars. It also offers loans to unbanked consumers by using their payment data to assess their creditworthiness.

Online platforms around the globe have a real opportunity to create brand loyalty and provide the tools of financial empowerment in the same vein as Grab and Alipay. The key is to leverage your existing user touchpoints and develop products that serve as stepping stones toward financial empowerment and wealth creation.

The core of the current fintech moment is delivering local solutions in the user’s moment of need within your platform experience. With the right infrastructure, and features in place, users will interact with your app for activities such as shopping, paying bills, and saving for the future, rather than just when they are driving, riding, or ordering food. It starts with giving users the foundational ability to easily set up virtual accounts. From there you can begin facilitating transactions, and guide users to the next step, whether that's establishing a savings account, applying for a small loan, credit card or insurance.

Providing access to financial services changes people's lives and fosters customer loyalty while increasing long-term profitability. Where traditional banks have failed to deliver on financial inclusion and user engagement, platforms, marketplaces and digital firms can succeed by not only providing a way to earn a livelihood, but also an enhanced personalized financial experience for workers and customers. Financial empowerment on a global scale has never been closer at hand, and online platforms will be the ones to achieve it.

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