(FREE) PayPal will be hard pressed to
retain its position as the world’s largest provider of online
alternate payments for much longer, at least in terms of account
Hard on PayPal’s heels is China’s largest
e-commerce company Alibaba Group’s online payment service Alipay,
which by the end of February 2009 had notched up its 150 millionth
The vast majority of Alipay’s registered users
are individuals, while around 460,000 are businesses or online
Though still trailing the 175 million
registered users reported by PayPal at the end of 2008, Alipay is
gaining ground fast – having between August 2008 and February 2009
gained a staggering 50 million new users, 20 million of these being
added in the first two months of 2009.
During 2008 PayPal added 34 million new
account holders though, notably, the number of active account
holders fell from 83.2 million in 2007 to 70.4 million in 2008.
Active account holders in 2008 included those
of Bill Me Later (BML), acquired by PayPal’s parent company eBay in
the fourth quarter of the year.
In terms of the value of payments, however,
PayPal appears at least for now to be in no danger of loosing its
current position as the world’s leading online payments
eBay reported that in 2008 its payments
operations had handled transactions valued at $60.1 billion, up
26.6 percent compared with 2007. MBL accounted for about $160
million of the 2008 total.
Alibaba has not provided annual data for
payment values. However, it has revealed that Alipay’s total daily
transaction value has increased from CNY450 million ($66 million)
at the end of August 2008 to up to CNY700 million in February
On an annualised basis this indicates a total
transaction value of some $37 billion, almost two-thirds of the
total achieved by PayPal in 2008.
The number of Alipay transactions has also
soared, increasing from 2 million per day in August 2008 to 4
million per day in February 2009.
On an annualised basis the latter figure
equals almost 1.5 billion transactions, significantly more than the
889 million successfully completed transactions recorded by PayPal