A guide to PayPal alternatives in Asia
January 28, 2012 by Terence LEE
Globally, PayPal is the dominant online payment solution. Often, you aren’t an online merchant if you don’t have an option for users to pay for your goods via PayPal.
But in Asia, PayPal’s not the only kid in the online payment neighborhood. In fact, over the years, numerous alternatives have sprung up in the region, sometimes even beating the payment giant in market share in their respective countries. Some countries don’t even offer PayPal.
In emerging markets, ubiquitous Internet services are not always readily available, which means over-the-counter payment remains popular in those places.
So, if you’re an entrepreneur keen on regional or global expansion, understanding the market and the key players is an important first step. To help you, we’ve compiled this constantly-updated list to keep you abreast of the latest developments in Asia.
Launched in January 2012 by AsiaPay, a Internet and mobile payment services provider, PayDollar is a comprehensive debit payment option for the Asia-Pacific region. Merchants can use it to collect real-time payments from customers via bank accounts, debit cards, e-wallets, and prepaid products.
It can process payments from the following partners: China UnionPay, AliPay, 99Bill, PPS, MyClear, BancNet, Globe GCash, Smart Money, POLi, Bangkok Bank, Bank of Ayudhya, TMB Bank, United Overseas Bank, Siam Commercial Bank, and Krung Thai Bank accountholders.
The appeal of this service is that it can accept payments from a wide variety of online payment options, be it e-commerce, m-commerce, or direct bank transactions.
The service is available in Hong Kong, China, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Thailand, Singapore, and Philippines.
Paysbuy is a popular online payment option in Thailand. Founded in 2004, it allows members to send and receive money, as well as make payments via electronic devices. It also offers a variety of payment channels including credit cards, bank transfers, counter services, and e-wallets.
The company recently launched a mobile app for iPhone and Android, and has obtained an Electronic Money License from Thailand’s Ministry of Finance, and an Electronic Payment Service Provider License from the Ministry of ICT. They also have the Trustmark symbol from the Ministry of Commerce.
3) Alipay, Tenpay, Chinapay, 99bill
According to an interactive graphic from Thomson-Reuters, Alipay is tops with 45.5 percent market share. It claims to have some 550 million users. Second is Tenpay, at 21.2 percent, followed by Chinapay and finally 99bill, which, despite coming in a distant fourth, has 107 million registered users (and the most original name).
PayPal is hardly a blip on the radar, although Chinese users do use it to purchase foreign goods.
Alipay allows companies outside of China to accept payments from within the country through its cross-border website and mobile payment services. However, foreign companies must pay a US$1,000 setup fee, and are charged a higher transaction fee. They also have an escrow payment service that allows shoppers to verify the quality of the goods they received before releasing the funds to the merchant.
Alipay can also be seen as PayPal greatest competitor. In fact, it claims to be bigger than PayPal in terms of transaction volume and registered users. Alipay has global ambitions as well: It plans to launch Alipay Express, it’s international online payment platform, very soon.
Tenpay and 99bill, on the other hand, can only be used by businesses registered in China. Also, 99bill lacks an escrow service, and also charges foreign companies more. Tenpay would be a great option if your business is reaching out to customers that use Tencent’s QQ services. QQ is the most popular instant messaging service in China, at 300 million users.
Considering the obvious bias towards China companies that the services have, foreign entrepreneurs who are serious about doing e-commerce in China should really consider registering in the country. For a more detailed guide on which payment services best suit your business, check out this handy article.
Swiff, a Singapore-based company, does not seek to duplicate what PayPal does. Unlike PayPal, which is primarily an online payment gateway, Swiff is a mobile point-of-sales solution that enables merchants to accept payments simply by attaching a small credit card swiper to and installing an app on their smartphones.
What Swiff is competing with PayPal in, however, is the fight to win the future of cashless transactions in brick-and-mortar stores. It’s a battle that the likes of Google Wallet and US-based Square (started by Twitter creater Jack Dorsey) are involved in too.
Besides being a standalone product, Swiff also enables app developers to offer its solutions from their apps so that they can transact with users. The company has also worked with Raptor, a restaurant POS provider, to integrate their payment service into restaurant operations.
SGE previewed Swiff in October 2011, and since then, they are one step closer to launch. Their iOS and Android app is available for download on the App Store and Android Market. Merchants who want to use the app will need to register on the Swiff website.
The service is being made available in Singapore and Malaysia, although they plan to expand to Europe, the USA, Canada and South America.
Think PayPal for games, and you have MOLPoints. But it’s more than that: MOLPoints is also an online currency and currency exchange system. A Malaysian product, MOLPoints is a system that enables customers to purchase online games, products, and services. It is available in Malaysia, Singapore, Philippines, India, Indonesia, and Thailand.
MOLPoints is essentially a niche product that services avid casual gamers who wouldn’t mind splurging on in-game items. Users pay real currency in exchange for MOLPoints, which can be used in over 200 games. With the MOLPoints Facebook app, gamers can even purchase Facebook Credits for use within the social network.
Last year, MOL Global, the company behind the system, purchased Zest Interactive, a leading games distributor and payment gateway company in Thailand. It owns a network of over 40,000 physical channels including retail outlets and cybercafes.
The acquisition should result in stronger usage of MOLPoints among Thai casual gamers.
Know of any alternatives that should be featured? Let us know in the comments section!
Find out more about SGE’s research arm: SGE Insights, providing customized in-depth research reports to help you navigate the business of technology in Asia.
About The Author
Terence LEE - Editor
Terence writes mainly about technology trends and startups in Asia. He believes in crafting smart content: Not just a regurgitation of text, but well thought-out pieces that serve the reader using a combination of data, design, narratives, analysis, and visual impact. His articles have been published on Venturebeat, Yahoo!, Straits Times, Today, and The Online Citizen. He also co-founded NewNation.sg, a satirical news site covering Singapore affairs. Engage him on LinkedIn and Twitter.Read other posts by Terence LEE