Skip to navigationSkip to content
An Alipay logo is seen at a cashier in Shanghai January 12, 2017.
Reuters/Aly Song
The future is finally here.
SHOW AND TELL

Alipay is a Chinese mega app with more than 100 services rolled into one. Here’s a tour.

Ant Financial’s Alipay has become an all-encompassing app that people in China use for almost everything—from paying bills and buying tickets to choosing insurance and checking out English test scores at university.

It started out in 2004 as an escrow service tied to Alibaba’s e-commerce services. After years of blistering growth, Alipay now has around 700 million users and has become a pillar of China’s increasingly cashless society. Paper notes and metal coins are a rare sight for many Chinese—these days, street beggars are using QR codes to collect handouts.

The now ubiquitous blue-themed Alipay logo is 支, one of the characters of Alipay’s Chinese name, zhī fù bǎo (支付宝), which means payment treasure. It offers 40 major services, divided into six categories, providing more than 100 services in total—which in the Western internet world would be like having more than 100 separate apps crammed into one super-app. Users can find the various services by typing in a search box, and can select up to 11 most-used functions for the app’s front page.

You are reading a Quartz member exclusive.

Become a member to keep reading this story and the rest of our expert analyses on the changing global economy.

Why we think you’ll like it:

The rest of our guide to Ant Financial: 
China’s $150 billion fintech giant

News of the moment that’s contextualized, digestible, and always global in perspective

Exclusive, deeply researched guides on what the economy’s next normal will look like

Master this transition in your work and personal life through direct access to our journalists and the rest of our community