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Author Topic: China’s Payment Apps Give U.S. Bankers Nightmares  (Read 48 times)
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May 23, 2018, 10:15:20 PM
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Wandering the streets of Shanghai to admire the architecture, the head of one of the largest U.S. consumer banks recently found himself surrounded by a gaggle of teenagers.

Entranced by their phones, they hardly made way for the banker. The teens were messaging, shopping and sending money back and forth, all without cash. Instead, they were using Alipay and WeChat.

The scary thing for the American: Banks never got a cut.

The future of consumer payments may not be designed in New York or London but in China. There, money flows mainly through a pair of digital ecosystems that blend social media, commerce and banking—all run by two of the world’s most valuable companies. That contrasts with the U.S., where numerous firms feast on fees from handling and processing payments. Western bankers and credit-card executives who travel to China keep returning with the same anxiety: Payments can happen cheaply and easily without them.

Chinese vs. U.S. Payment Systems
Americans more typically involve banks and cards when paying with apps



Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. created Alipay in 2004 to let millions of potential customers who lacked credit and debit cards shop on its vast online marketplace. Tencent Holdings Ltd., similarly, debuted its payments function in 2005 in a bid to keep users inside its messaging system longer.

Alipay and WeChat have since swelled in popularity, boasting 520 million and 1 billion monthly active users, respectively. Consumers sent more than $2.9 trillion inside the two systems in 2016, equivalent to about half of all consumer goods sold in China, according to the payments consultancy Aite Group.

In contrast, U.S. consumers still rely on banks for most non-cash payments—whether it’s by check, debit, credit or a growing number of other payment systems tied to their bank accounts. Connected to that is a universe of wallets and payments systems operated by the likes of PayPal Holdings Inc., Apple Inc. and Alphabet Inc.’s Google. From the perspective of merchants, too much of the U.S. system siphons off enormous amounts of money.

Transaction Breakdown
In a typical $100 credit card purchase...



For now, no company in the U.S. commands the kind of clout that Alipay and WeChat wield back home. Instead, everyone is trying to replicate their success.

“This is going to be the battle of all time—like who dominates all those services—and it’s still not known,” Jamie Dimon, chief executive officer of JPMorgan Chase & Co., told his company’s investors in February. “Everyone wants to be the place that is the one place you go to do that.”

The nightmare for the U.S. financial industry is that a technology company—whether from China or a homegrown juggernaut such as Amazon.com Inc. or Facebook Inc.—replicates the success of Alipay and WeChat in America. The stakes are enormous, potentially carving away billions of dollars in annual revenue from major banks and other firms. What follows is a breakdown of what that could look like—theoretically—using the explosive growth as China’s apps as a rough guide.

Perhaps the clearest opportunity lies in siphoning off some of the fees that U.S. merchants pay to accept cards and mobile payments—about $90 billion a year, according to the Nilson Report, an industry newsletter. That money gets parceled out to card networks such as Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc., payment processors and banks, which pocket the largest share.

In China, analysts expect third-party payment providers to earn about 40 percent of such fees by 2020. If apps were to start grabbing market share in the U.S. at roughly the same rate they did in China, it would take a $43 billion revenue bite out of a business banks count as among their most profitable.

Merchant Fees
Financial firms would lose billions if the U.S. embraces third-party apps at a rate like China’s



But that’s just one way that U.S. banks impose fees. They also generate revenue by dispensing cash. If payments apps were to replace paper money—as they have in many situations in China—another form of income could take a big hit.

Easy Money
Checking accounts generate about $3 billion in bank fees, which would dwindle if consumers embrace apps



Soon, U.S. bank executives won’t have to travel far to see China’s systems up close. Alipay, owned by Jack Ma’s Ant Financial, has spent the better part of the past year inking deals with payment processors that will allow it to bring its technology to America. Already, many New York taxis offer it as a payment option to customers.

So far, Alipay has said the expansion is meant to help Chinese tourists, and that it’s focusing on cities they tend to visit. But few in the payments industry believe it will stop there.

Meanwhile, Chinese consumers are starting to park more of their savings with the apps. In 2013, Alipay began offering money-market accounts. By last year, it had built that business into the world’s largest money-market fund with about $243 billion. For banks, that’s yet another bite. They traditionally hold customer deposits and use that money to fund loans—generating significant profits. If U.S. consumers were to start storing their extra cash with apps, banks would have to find an alternate—probably more expensive—source of funding.

Deposits
Even a relatively small bite to deposits would be a lot of money



To be sure, U.S. banks have formidable advantages on their home turf. They have longstanding relationships with their customers, many of whom still like ‘visiting their money’ at a local branch. Consumers love credit card rewards programs and other perks, which have gotten sweeter in recent years, as well as the ability to charge back purchases that don’t go well. And U.S. bank deposits are backed by the Federal Deposit Insurance Corp.

Still, banks and payment networks have a lot to lose if technology firms succeed in grabbing market share—and there are signs that Alipay and WeChat aren’t the only firms that may flex their muscles. Amazon is said to be interested in offering its own product to mimic checking accounts while offering to lower costs for retailers who use its online payments service.

“What happened in China was not an even playing field,” Al Kelly, Visa’s chief executive officer, said at an investor conference in March. “What I hope happens around the rest of the world as they migrate is that at least it’s an even playing field.”

https://www.bloomberg.com/graphics/2018-payment-systems-china-usa/

Looks as if banks could have serious competition from a neglected angle: 3rd party payment apps like alipay and wechat.

This is interesting. We've seen walmart succeed via cutting middle men from their business model. We've seen amazon succeed via cutting physical stores. Now it seems many are choosing to cut banks out as a middle man. The future could be one where banks have less presence. It could make business more efficient and eliminate unnecessary costs which appears to be one of the major impetus for developments in retail and finance.

China is a major favorite and darling of the establishment. China receives a lot of privilege which western and european nations typically do not receive. The emergence of these types of 3rd party apps could create a major conflict of interest. On one hand the establishment loves china and wants it to succeed and overthrow the evil western capitalist nations. On the other hand, chinese 3rd party apps have potential to wreck centralized bank cartels and severely dilute their revenue streams and influence. Things are getting crazy. I don't even know what to think anymore.

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May 24, 2018, 09:26:41 AM
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 #2

I can speak from experience that both Wechat pay and Alipay are basically accepted everywhere within mainland China. Even overseas, there are merchants that accept both of these payment methods. Even bank cards are becoming obsolete as a result of the convenience of scanning a QR code to pay, even for groceries.

The massive rate of adoption is just unseen anywhere else, and it's really interesting to see that western counterparts such as Paypal, or Apple Pay, have ever made.

One of the reasons is probably the fact that Wechat/Alipay are both irreversible, while paypal is completely reversible. Also their marketing campaigns with Chinese red packets really boosted early adoption as well.

It'll be interesting to see development of third party payment processors in the future outside of China. They'll be a major threat to the traditional banking system, alongside cryptos. It'll be interesting to see the battle between them.

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May 24, 2018, 09:53:10 AM
 #3

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Looks as if banks could have serious competition from a neglected angle: 3rd party payment apps like alipay and wechat.

This is interesting. We've seen walmart succeed via cutting middle men from their business model. We've seen amazon succeed via cutting physical stores. Now it seems many are choosing to cut banks out as a middle man. The future could be one where banks have less presence. It could make business more efficient and eliminate unnecessary costs which appears to be one of the major impetus for developments in retail and finance.

China is a major favorite and darling of the establishment. China receives a lot of privilege which western and european nations typically do not receive. The emergence of these types of 3rd party apps could create a major conflict of interest. On one hand the establishment loves china and wants it to succeed and overthrow the evil western capitalist nations. On the other hand, chinese 3rd party apps have potential to wreck centralized bank cartels and severely dilute their revenue streams and influence. Things are getting crazy. I don't even know what to think anymore.

Cutting out middle man is overall good for the business and the economy. Products become cheaper if other factors like fuel price and logistics cost supports it. As a result, an end consumer can purchase a product deducting the middleman cost and commissions. Even in India, we have started seeing such payment facilitation companies like Paytm and Jio Money are on rise. Especially the demonetization effort by the government has helped it become mainstream. In my city, even the small roadside vendors accept this payment system. However, here comes the funny part.

This money is essentially going into banking channel at the end of the day. However, not as a bank's revenue but as a liability product. Because every vendor is getting the settlement into their bank accounts only. So banks are getting deposits from the common mass which they can lend out to the society but they are not getting the commissions from such payment transactions, which is effectively reducing their operating revenue.

But these payment companies are again a centralized entity like any other banks. So we are not effectively providing us any freedom on our own money. Everything is seen by the government and we are paying taxes on it. That's where crypto currency can help us. The world of economy is changing at a super fast pace as the technology is constantly evolving. Either we go with the flow or stay behind.

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May 29, 2018, 04:28:16 AM
 #4

Cutting out middle man is overall good for the business and the economy. Products become cheaper if other factors like fuel price and logistics cost supports it. As a result, an end consumer can purchase a product deducting the middleman cost and commissions. Even in India, we have started seeing such payment facilitation companies like Paytm and Jio Money are on rise. Especially the demonetization effort by the government has helped it become mainstream. In my city, even the small roadside vendors accept this payment system. However, here comes the funny part.

This money is essentially going into banking channel at the end of the day. However, not as a bank's revenue but as a liability product. Because every vendor is getting the settlement into their bank accounts only. So banks are getting deposits from the common mass which they can lend out to the society but they are not getting the commissions from such payment transactions, which is effectively reducing their operating revenue.

But these payment companies are again a centralized entity like any other banks. So we are not effectively providing us any freedom on our own money. Everything is seen by the government and we are paying taxes on it. That's where crypto currency can help us. The world of economy is changing at a super fast pace as the technology is constantly evolving. Either we go with the flow or stay behind.

There are some who claimed demonetization was designed to give bankers a monopoly over money(myself included). It would be nice to see 3rd party apps throw a monkey wrench in there and decentralize things. It is also nice to see something other than bitcoin and crypto offering banks competition. Years ago many internet platforms were creating and utilizing their own digital money. Even facebook got in on this. Havent kept track of things, it is possible many of them shut down around the time Liberty Reserve was shutdown after those alleged $6 billion dollar money laundering accusations. I don't know if facebook even offers their own digital currency anymore.

I think that cutting out middle men can be good in some circumstances. There are some cases where its done in the short term as a type of predatory business practice aimed at eliminating competition, creating a monopoly and centralized market. In those cases, cutting out middle men could be a bad thing. An example of this could be amazon which is putting retailers out of business and threatens to centralize things to a good degree. China's steel market could be similar as it attempts to centralize the steel industry.

Wish I had more information on this, sadly I don't know much about these 3rd party payment apps and this seems like a critical area of things which could determine how the future of crypto goes.

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August 08, 2018, 06:49:22 AM
 #5

It's been a nightmare for so many years. China and the United States are two countries with too much economic power, it is like two dragons on the map. But do not say too, actually these two men have crazy market. The thing is that they do not stop production and always have the mind to capture the whole market. They are all powerful actions that shake the world economy. But we only see the upside of things. In fact, they have tactics in the market is very fierce. There are many things I do not know all I need you to add.

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August 08, 2018, 08:59:12 AM
 #6

I can speak from experience that both Wechat pay and Alipay are basically accepted everywhere within mainland China. Even overseas, there are merchants that accept both of these payment methods. Even bank cards are becoming obsolete as a result of the convenience of scanning a QR code to pay, even for groceries.

The massive rate of adoption is just unseen anywhere else, and it's really interesting to see that western counterparts such as Paypal, or Apple Pay, have ever made.

One of the reasons is probably the fact that Wechat/Alipay are both irreversible, while paypal is completely reversible. Also their marketing campaigns with Chinese red packets really boosted early adoption as well.

It'll be interesting to see development of third party payment processors in the future outside of China. They'll be a major threat to the traditional banking system, alongside cryptos. It'll be interesting to see the battle between them.

Really? Wechat and Alipay are both irreversible? Is it like Bitcoin's level of irreversibility of transactions? What about buyers and sellers protection then? I reckon PayPal gets a bad rap for the increasing number of illegitimate chargebacks people might experience using their platform for doing business, but at least there is a case resolution center and scam attempts could be successfully resolved or prevented. China is notorious for bad business practices, and wouldn't the removal of basic consumer protection lead to a boom of elaborate scams anyone could pull off easily without fear of repercussion due to the transactions being completely irreversible?

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August 08, 2018, 09:27:08 AM
 #7

Cutting out middle man is overall good for the business and the economy. Products become cheaper if other factors like fuel price and logistics cost supports it. As a result, an end consumer can purchase a product deducting the middleman cost and commissions. Even in India, we have started seeing such payment facilitation companies like Paytm and Jio Money are on rise. Especially the demonetization effort by the government has helped it become mainstream. In my city, even the small roadside vendors accept this payment system. However, here comes the funny part.

This money is essentially going into banking channel at the end of the day. However, not as a bank's revenue but as a liability product. Because every vendor is getting the settlement into their bank accounts only. So banks are getting deposits from the common mass which they can lend out to the society but they are not getting the commissions from such payment transactions, which is effectively reducing their operating revenue.

But these payment companies are again a centralized entity like any other banks. So we are not effectively providing us any freedom on our own money. Everything is seen by the government and we are paying taxes on it. That's where crypto currency can help us. The world of economy is changing at a super fast pace as the technology is constantly evolving. Either we go with the flow or stay behind.

There are some who claimed demonetization was designed to give bankers a monopoly over money(myself included). It would be nice to see 3rd party apps throw a monkey wrench in there and decentralize things. It is also nice to see something other than bitcoin and crypto offering banks competition. Years ago many internet platforms were creating and utilizing their own digital money. Even facebook got in on this. Havent kept track of things, it is possible many of them shut down around the time Liberty Reserve was shutdown after those alleged $6 billion dollar money laundering accusations. I don't know if facebook even offers their own digital currency anymore.

I think that cutting out middle men can be good in some circumstances. There are some cases where its done in the short term as a type of predatory business practice aimed at eliminating competition, creating a monopoly and centralized market. In those cases, cutting out middle men could be a bad thing. An example of this could be amazon which is putting retailers out of business and threatens to centralize things to a good degree. China's steel market could be similar as it attempts to centralize the steel industry.

Wish I had more information on this, sadly I don't know much about these 3rd party payment apps and this seems like a critical area of things which could determine how the future of crypto goes.


Dude! Don't remind me about Liberty reserve please! I have lost 2 grand with it and still crying foul over that money. It's huge amount according to our fiat money. I am sure you understand! Sad

Demonetization was indeed planned to give Banks the upper hand of public money where people from every segment were forced to deposit their money into banks. This trick was played to cut down the black money and reinforce the banks with fresh capitals. But the entire drama didn't come to the aid of common mass. We were harassed like hell and that shows how the centralized system can force us to comply with requirements. Cryptos are exactly that tool to free us from such centralized compliance.

But if you think that Alipay or Wechatpay is giving us liberty from centralized payment systems, then you are living in fool's paradise. Take example for "Paytm" which probably we both use in our daily life for smaller value transactions. DO you think these all are de-centralized?? No! Everything is settled through Banks only. They are not throwing any competition to the Banks, instead they are strengthening the position of Banks to provide convenience. The front end we are using is from an app developer, but at the end of the day, everything goes into wither their bank accounts or the merchants' bank accounts. Nothing is converted into cash which effectively bringing down the operating costs for them.

Third party payment apps like Alipay, wechatpay or paytm has nothing to do with de-centralization, neither they will help to the future of cryptos. Instead they are challenging the existence of cryptos by providing convenience to the users. We are now so used to pay through our smartphones, isn't it? Just scan a QR code and you are done! That's convenient for us but the architecture is strictly centralized and controlled by the regulatory authority. These apps are actually a challenge to the cryptos, not aiding its progress!


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