Alipay payment system review: rates, merchants and security

30 June 2017

With the development of economy and network technology, we have undergone a tremendous change in recent years. Gradually, we have been footing into the information era from the industrial age. Nowadays, more and more new techniques are widely used by people, in particular in online payment systems that lead people to a better and more convenient life.

Chinese websites are among the most visited online destinations and hold the top spot in the number of purchases made. Trade entrepreneurs from around the world know that ordering goods in China is much cheaper than in other countries. All buyers who have ever made at least one purchase through Chinese websites have noticed that it is possible to pay for the goods using Alipay payment system. So we want to take a closer look at this payment service in our review.

Alipay: basic idea is a Chinese online payment system launched in 2004 by Alibaba Group and its founder Jack Ma. Thereafter, what started out as a provider to assist clients to purchase goods from Alibaba retailers developed into a genuine finance business all its own. Today, Alipay serves as a kind of e-wallet that is a clear leader of online third-party payment services in China, and aims to provide a safe, secure, and easy-to-use way for millions of individuals and merchants to make or receive online or mobile payments.

In addition to all its unique features, Alipay at the same time enhances the weak and inadequate Consumer Protection Rights during the whole process of online transaction. Altogether, there are two key special characteristics of Alipay that drive it to become the most popular online payment solution within China. The first one is escrow service that helps protect the absolute safety of transaction value over time, and the other one is availability of flexible payment options that allow users to freely choose preferred payment methods.


For example, customers may pay using the balance of Alipay account, or pay using associated bank cards, or using other alternative methods whatever the user like. Furthermore, Alipay still gives a surprise to its users that all of the online transactions are made without service fees. Obviously, that is one of the reasons of why Alipay is so widely adopted by web surfers around the world. In fact, Alipay is not only an online payment service, but it is also a coordinator between the buyer and the seller throughout the course of the online transaction. In case there is a dispute on purchased goods or services between the buyer and the seller, Alipay will timely intervenes as an intermediator between them to efficiently solve the conflict.

Alipay is also known as PayPal of the East. Alipay’s back-end option is just like that of PayPal, but on the front-end the client’s experience is quite distinctive. PayPal is best known as a payment option, a screen you may reach at the end of a transaction on a retail website, but with Alipay, users can follow directly its app and website to make purchases, check their investments, remit funds to other Alipay individuals and offer or split bills among them utilizing QR codes. Alipay can be used to pay utility bills, top up mobile phone credits, buy train tickets or check the balance of a connected bank account. With Alipay, you could leave the house with your mobile device only and no cash or cards are required, and you will surely survive.

Exchange rate fees

The residents of China can credit Alipay account using their bankcards. In this case, the commission will be only the percentage that is declared by the issuing bank. For foreigners, on the other hand, the conditions are somewhat different. However, the payment system allows exchanging e-money through other online platforms.

The most convenient tool for depositing and withdrawing funds is Western Uniоn, an international payment system with the ability to instantly transfer money. In addition, there is an opportunity to exchange funds with the help of Qiwi wallet (3% fee), WebMoney (0.8% fee) and bankcards (3% fee). It should be noted that except for the payment system commission, there may be fees of exchange offices. Since direct withdrawal of e-money into foreign accounts is not provided, the exchange takes place through payment terminals and online exchangers. Their commission can fluctuate from 0.5% to 1% of the amount.

Thanks to the intermediaries, you can easily replenish your Alipay account. Most likely, in the future it will be possible to top up e-wallet directly. At the same time, no one can deny the benefits of Alipay, so for regular customers of Chinese online platforms the financial gains of using this payment system cover up all rough waters.

Domestic and international merchants

When it comes to internal structure of Alipay, it is made up of more than 65 financial institutions to offer main payment services for the online shopping platform. In addition to supporting online payment services for Chinese large websites such as, and also other domestic 460,000 Chinese businesses, Alipay acts as an intermediator, and provides diverse services for more than 300 worldwide merchants to do business in the Chinese market. Furthermore, as it comes from the Alipay’s official statement, there are 14 currently-supported currencies used for e-commerce transactions internationally.

Alipay as the biggest e-payment service provider in China, has already made many attempts to expand its business outside China relying on their advanced technology and creative innovation so far.

Going back to October 2014, Alipay introduced a payments and logistics-service tool, ePass, which provides a special channel for western merchants (U.S. and Europe) to reach Chinese consumers directly without going into China. From technological point of view, ePass combines Alipay’s cross-border foreign currency settlement with overseas delivery platform from China Smart Logistics Network to conduct e-commerce business for its participants. Hence, western merchants are not only able to handle transactions via Alipay in home country, but they are also able to track shipping information from China Smart Logistics Network.

In addition, there is AlipayHK payment tool, which was formally released in Hong Kong on May 25, 2017. Subscribing for AlipayHK with a local mobile number, linking the AlipayHK account with credit cards issued in Hong Kong, or replenishing the AlipayHK account with ready money, consumers can pay in more than 2,000 specialized retail stores across Hong Kong. Purchasers are just requested to scan the trader’s QR code to finish the transaction.

Security proof and measures

The ultimate aim of Alipay is to provide a safe, easy-to-use, swift way for individuals and merchants to do business with each other. From transaction safety perspective, Alipay serves as a middleman during transaction process between the buyer and the seller, and it always pays sufficient attention to the aspect of security. For a good insight into the current security settings of Alipay payment system for consumers, look at these six major security factors below:


Security Controls. Alipay Security Controls is compatible with mainstream operating systems on PCs, including Windows XP (SP2, SP3), Windows 7 (SP1), Windows 8, MAC OS X 10.9, MAC OS X 10.10, etc. As for the browsers, it can be opened by a number of browsers such as IE8, IE9, IE10, IE11, Safari, Chrome, 360, Sogou, QQ, Firefox, UC, etc. Nonetheless, Alipay continues trying its best to optimize the compatibility of Security Controls all the time, which not only guarantees the safety of Controls but also makes it easy-to-use.

SMS Verification Service. This is an additional security measure, which allows Alipay account to be bound with the user’s private telephone number, in order to enhance the level of account safety.

Digital Certificate. Apart from encoding user information, Digital Certificate acts as one of the most important certified identities, when user disposes of the stored funds on Alipay account, and it ensures that the account funds are safe.

Payment Shield. It is known as a security solution tool in Alipay payment system, which consists of electronic signature and digital authentication.

Bao Order (PC or mobile version). In general, Bao Order is an external and parallel security service jointly launched by Alipay and China Unicom. To be more specific, six random characters appear generated on the screen by its encryption algorithm per minute to ensure the funds in Alipay account to be more secure.

Security Protection Question. The Security Protection Question service is often used to set several private questions and corresponding answers which only the true owner of Alipay account knows.

Technological development constantly perfects our everyday life. With the invention of ever-advanced tools, the e-payment market is predetermined to develop in online direction, decreasing the number of purchases made by paper money. Mobile payments are spreading ever more swiftly, and in a brief timeframe, most operations will be made using alternative payment systems just like Alipay and other payment processing providers.

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