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ALIPAY IS THE LARGEST MOBILE PAYMENTS PLATFORM IN THE WORLD. Alipay operates as a third-party payments platform and is a business segment of China’s Alibaba, an online commerce site similar to Amazon and eBay.
On Saturday, Alipay announced on its Weibo account that it processed nearly $US150 billion in mobile transactions in 2013. The company claimed that its mobile payments volume was greater than both PayPal and Square combined.
PayPal’s mobile transaction volume was just $US27 billion in 2013, and while we can’t say for sure what Square’s total mobile transaction volume was last year because the company does not regularly report these numbers, it is almost certainly smaller than PayPal’s. That means Alipay may well have processed more than triple the transaction volume of PayPal and Square, based on Alipay’s reported numbers.
Alipay says it has 300 million registered users and 100 million mobile users. The company said that it overtook PayPal in terms of mobile users in the second quarter of 2013. To give some context, consider that Amazon, which has its own payments business, has 224 million registered users. (Hong Kong Standard)
THE MAJORITY OF PREPAID USERS HAVE BANK ACCOUNTS. 50-nine per cent of Americans who use prepaid cards have a checking account and 66% own a credit card, according to a new survey from Pew. The data contrasts the recieved view that prepaid cards appeal mostly to the unbanked. Top reasons for using prepaid cards among consumers include controlling spending, avoiding fees, and making payments online where cash cannot be used. (Pew)
VISA CEO SAYS CHINA IS SLOW TO ACCEPT FOREIGN CARD NETWORKS. “It’s going to take a long time for the market to actually open up in a way that we actually do have that level playing field,” says Charlie Scharf, Visa CEO. Currently all payment cards denominated in Renminbi in China must be issued through the card network China UnionPay. Scharf says that China needs to be looked at as a 5- to 10-year opportunity for foreign card networks. (Bloomberg)
BITCOIN EXCHANGE SAYS A SOFTWARE BUG LED IT TO HALT WITHDRAWALS. Last week, Japanese Bitcoin exchange Mt. Gox experienced a technical malfunction that resulted in the exchange temporarily halting withdrawals to external Bitcoin wallets. Mt. Gox is the largest Bitcoin exchange in the world so the news unsurprisingly caused the price of Bitcoin to crash.
Yesterday, the company released a statement that described the source of the problem.The non-technical explanation is that there is a bug in the Bitcoin software that allows users to alter Bitcoin transactions to make it appear as if they did not occur. One effect is that a user could double withdraw from an exchange. Mt. Gox is working with the Bitcoin core development team to resolve the issue. (Mt. Gox)
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HERE IS THE STORY BEHIND EBAY’S TURNAROUND. Business Insider’s Nicholas Carlson has a nice long-form story about how eBay launched a $US50 billion turnaround. The story isn’t about eBay’s PayPal payments business specifically, but it has implications for the intersection between payments and e-commerce. (Business Insider.)
RUSSIA BANS BITCOIN OUTRIGHT. The Russian Prosecutor General’s Office clarified that money substitutes, which include Bitcoin, cannot be used as legal tender by persons or entities. What’s interesting about this is that in doing so, Russia has implicitly defined Bitcoin as having qualities of a currency. This is in contrast to some other countries that have treated Bitcoin as an asset. What that indicates is the Russian legislators see both the potential of Bitcoin as as a medium for transferring value and also as a potential threat to government-backed tender. (Payments Source)
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