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eBay plans PayPal launch in China

2:32 am on Jul 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

article [news.yahoo.com]
Chief Executive Officer Meg Whitman has also said that China could become eBay's second largest market after the United States within five to 10 years if eBay plays its cards right.
E-commerce company Alibaba recently launched its own online payment system called Alipay, while venture capital-backed SmartPay Jieyin Ltd. has also rolled out an electronic payment system catering to the mobile telecoms market.

This will be good news for anyone doing e-commerce in China. I just hope that they will be smart enough to put a Chinese language interface in place. ;)

I wonder when eBay will figure out that they could have made great inroads into Japan if they had just put a Japanese language interface on top of the PayPal system that's been operating in Japan for years now.

4:45 am on Jul 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes, a bit silly without the interface in Chinese!

The questions are (and you may know the answers, Bill):

Will PayPal accept anything but US based credit cards and accounts - if not how restricting is this? I expect many Japanese have VISA but Chinese?

Will this be another Indonesia for credit card fraud and general foul-ups?

6:00 am on Jul 8, 2005 (gmt 0)

WebmasterWorld Administrator bill is a WebmasterWorld Top Contributor of All Time 10+ Year Member Top Contributors Of The Month

Yes, a bit silly without the interface in Chinese!

Don't laugh. That's exactly what PayPal has done in Japan. They have had the service available for many years, but all the sign-up and user control panels are in English only!

OK, you can laugh now.

Will PayPal accept anything but US based credit cards and accounts

They take Japanese credit cards for me, and have done so since the service became available here. Different countries have different rules, but I'd expect the China venture to take credit cards from Chinese banks.

The Japanese service will also do direct withdrawal/deposit to your bank account in Japan. This was not available when PayPal started Japan service; it's a more recent addition. In order for this service to take off in China I would think that they would need to work with the local banking system.

Will this be another Indonesia for credit card fraud and general foul-ups?

I couldn't say. If people can game the PayPal system in the US, then they can do it in China just as well. I don't think there's inherently any more risk involved here.
4:28 am on Jul 9, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Yes, a bit silly without the interface in Chinese!

The do have Chinese interface, though I do not have an Paypal account to log in for a further research. Please visit Paypal China [paypal.cn]

They seems to be working with China Merchant Bank and Construction Bank of China, whoes logos appear in Paypal China's webpages.

1:03 am on Jul 10, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member


You are right. It comes up in Chinese. When I logged in (autocomplete, no less) it logged on in English, however.

Does this mean PayPal will think I'm a Chinese hacker and freeze my account... :( I'll let you know!

Perhaps they'll get around to japan now.

11:00 am on Jul 11, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Chinese language interface for paypal China. But what about paypal taiwan? It is still left with an english interface. Would have thought they would have got taiwan motering first on this.
4:07 pm on Jul 20, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Friend just tried to sign up - apparantly in the sign up proceedure you need to supply a Chinese goverment ID number. So, this paypal interface is not for Chinese speakers everywhere - just for Chinese citizens it would seem. I have no access to a Chinese goverment ID number so cannot see "the other side". Would be great if someone chinese could join and perhaps let us in on the funding options available with this chinese paypal.
2:43 pm on Jul 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

To reiterate, would be really useful if a chinese language speaker can let us know the funding options available to chinese netizens through this paypal service. Is this paypal service "live" right now? Or is it just a shell website at present?
4:38 pm on Jul 22, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I tried to look at paypal.cn. Indeed, I saw a Chinese version. However do not be misleaded by the Chinese on homepage. There are very very limited information in Chinese, most of the content are still in English.

I don't think that can be ok in China.

I tried to look to how you can transfer money into your paypal account there. The only sentence I found is:


That means you can use online bank transfer to fund your paypal account. Online bank transfer is one of the most popular ways of paying in China. Most of Chinese people don't use credit card.

12:13 am on Jul 23, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I am very strongly considering linking to this chinese paypal site on my own website. However, my greatest concern is that this site is not live and functional yet and that I could be sending my visitors on a futile errand. Has anyone signed up with it yet? Can anyone put my mind at rest concerning this? Does it work?
11:54 am on Jul 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

hi hermes, we are just doing a comparison on alipay and paypal in china at the moment. i will post payment options when confirmed, but the key differences to date are that alipay is a true escrow system; payment is not disbursed until the purchasor confirms receipt of goods. i guess this is a better system in this market; trust and security being paramount.

the other difference pple may not be aware of is that online banking and mobile phone "wallets" are growing rapidly in china; so consumers can transfer money immediately on purchase via online banking/wallets to their alipay account. i assume this facility is also available on paypal but have yet to confirm. note alipay is backed by softbank in japan, and they have tended to make some good picks in recent years.

from a buyer perspective at this time alipay looks the best deal; paypal have slashed transaction fees by 50% to try and compete. but from a vendor position, especially offshore vendors, alipay would have the disadvantage from a cashflow perspective in that the vendor has to pay all costs (delivery etc.) upfront and the time lag till payment.

will post more information when we have opened both accounts and done some testing.

8:11 pm on Jul 28, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

That is really excellent news. I am so interested.

One difference for me I would guess is that with paypal it is (presumably) going to be easy to get money from a chinese netizen to my UK bank account - paypal funds can be withdrawn to UK bank accounts. However, with alipay - as I understand it currently, alipay funds can only be withdrawn to chinese bank accounts. Alipay is superiour with the escrow service I think, especially with the mistrust I have read about in China with web payments. I read that with the chinese ebay - buyers and sellers tend to meet and pay in cash! Such is the mistrust! So, they have quite a different ecommerce culture. Maybe alipay can start to change that.

1:41 am on Jul 29, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

Hello guys,

I just wanted to outline some of the issues with e-commerce in China. The first thing is it's certainly getting easier to get your money, through PayPal and the like but there are some real issues with trust and buying online.

There are a number of things that need to be addressed with selling online in China.

First and foremost is government approvals. The government recently set up a 'trust sign' which gives you registration from the government. Check out the following link [smartpay.com.cn...] and there is a IC trust sign below the navigation bar on the left side. The company has registered with the Department of Communication. Check out this link

[shca.gov.cn...] (sorry it's in Chinese).

Or this one for paypal registration in Shanghai. [app.shca.gov.cn...]

Please note that you need this approval if you develop an e-commerce set with direct online payment. Not many companies do this now. Sina.com, Alibaba, PayPal, SmartPay do this.

But you don't need these approvals if you have a personal shop online and use the alibaba, sohu or taobao personal shop portals to do your business. You can use their already e-commerce payment system to sell through their websites. This is what we have done in China.

To be honest most of the PayPal and SmartPay options are still limited due to the bad banking systems in China. Even though there is a national banking system most of the branches have separate systems, accounts etc which do not link well so this means that PayPal and SmartPay have to develop their network across all the provinces and regions individually. This will take time.

What I can gather is there are three main payment systems which work when you have an online personal shop.

1. Account Transfer. Transfer from one account to another. Personal or business account.
2. Transfer through a personal shop and online personal shop. For example, www.taobao.com.cn . This is a good way and gives trust to the buyer.
3. Cash on Delivery. Deliver the product, pay a small fee and the customer will pay directly to the delivery agent and then the agent pays you.

I only have limited experience in e-commerce in China through a mobile phone site I started with my wife. We are waiting government company approvals before we launch it officially. We have however had some success with opening a personal shop through(www.taobao.com.cn) but it's only small time. We set up a pretty bad website but it's functioning and sold some product. We employed a guy to do this and he has in less than a month sold enough to pay for his wages.

One of the good things we have done is have a MSN account so we can talk online with the potential customer. This helps with large purchases (which can be around $300-600 for each mobile) rather than smaller ones. This can close a sale quicker than via email.

Sorry I don't know if you already know this but if you don't then it outlines some things that have worked for us.

Good Luck.

3:52 am on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

Fantastic information virago, many thanks. had not considered smartpay.

we have done a review of paypal and alipay for our own purposes. without a doubt from a purchasor point of view would recommend alipay over paypal. the paypal site has next to no info in chinese. it can accept money via a cple of banks, but as it is not a true escrow service i think it would be a hard sell to the customer to get them to use. alipay on the other hand is totally localised for the chinese market and has a seamless system with taobao.

alipay seems allround a better option as it is definitely structured to engender trust. as virago mentioned, using the taobao site as your window into the chinese market is a good option and avoids a lot of pain and hassle! if paypal was going to come to convince me, they would have to totally localise their system (and they didnt for japan so i doubt they will for china), expand the number of banks and give an escrow option.


6:36 am on Aug 1, 2005 (gmt 0)

5+ Year Member

One thing I forgot was the issue with getting money out of China, which obviously is a concern for most of you out there. At the moment this is very difficult indeed. Unless you are import/export company in China you can't really get money out. Though this is changing you can now register a business with lower capital startup to do this but it still creates issues, time and alot of money do set things up.

The Chinese government doesn't help much. For example, if you wanted to set up a wholly owned foreign company in Beijing you need 100,000 RMB in the bank (which incidently you can withdraw later, though you shouldn't) and about 40-50 working days to register all about 8 separate departments which also need to be done in a certain order. AND this is after the simplisation process which occurred late last year! Don't a Chinese normal business is relatively easier but it still requires alot of legwork to get it up and running.

Anyway, I got carried away! Alipay seems to be a great option for most people outside China and creates the trust which is really needed for you to do business here in China.

I think it will take time for the SmartPay and PayPal to really get up to speed in China. As there is no real push from the consumer side to do this I think it will take more time for the consumer to accept this. Though this is changing it will take more time.

Anyway, as with most online payment systems, and from a marketing point of view providing options is the best.

One thing which I don't think any Chinese company does (and western for that matter) is immediate feedback and online discussion options where customer service can talk directly with you. Most of the ones I have come across only work from 9-5 with no option after hours. Well, we are in a global marketplace, if you can't provide 24 hour service then you are missing out of alot of potential customers and sales.

Sorry that's my rant for today!

7:57 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I read here that paypal is not very well localised in china - but as i have read (I cannot speak chinese so have not read the website, but some press reports) it can take payment from 20 different kinds of local debit cards from 15 local banks. Is this not the case? That sounds pretty localised to me. Do they miss the localisation buttons on other counts?

Has anyone here actually signed up with chinese paypal here? I would do it (with language help) but it needs a national id card number. One side issue is - do people in Hong Kong have the same chinese id card number system - can they sign up to use this paypal.cn?

One issue that worries me - is it all up and running right now - has anyone actually used it? Has anyone used it to make payment to someone abroad - or are chinese paypal users barred from sending money abroad. Can only pay other chinese paypal users. that sounds the kind of thing they would implement.

alipay sure sounds nice. I guess i will have to open a chinese bank account to use it which could prove a little tricky.....and involve a trip to the far east.

11:07 am on Aug 2, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

hi hermes; re localised, i was referring to the presentation of content on the website in chinese and working to a chinese cultural methodology, rather than strictly number of banks etc.

in summary, it seems to me that the use of alipay/taobao combination is much more likely to engender a conversion, which what is all of our bottom lines i would guess.


1:15 am on Aug 3, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

one more thing i forgot to mention; as to getting money out of china, it can be tricky to say the least. banks have limitations. in general most chinese will use "finance companies". these are non-bank, private institutions. they will have a pool of cash assetts in their offshore branches in local currency. the purchasor in china deposits RMB with the finance company; then the assigned person can visit the office of the finance company offshore (we have used one here in auckland, new zealand) and withdraw the money in local currency. as far as i am aware, the money never actually moves between the local china office and the offshore office. there is of course a risk for the vendor with this system, but we have used it succesfully here in NZ. it may pay you to check around the local chinese community in your location; talk to international education providers or reputable immigration consultants as they normally know the system well and should point you in the right direction.
7:30 am on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I register an account in Paypal China. Unlike Paypal in the States, Paypal china accepts only bank cards. It may accept credit card issued by chinese banks though, I will try later.

Because of this nature, many of paypal's killing features are not applicable in its chinese site. But there is a good news for merchants: You do not need to worry about charge back anymore because your customers are using bank cards, which have strong password protection mechanism. If fraud happens, it is up to the customer to deal with it, not you, the merchant.

10:35 am on Aug 6, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

if you wanted to set up a wholly owned foreign company in Beijing you need 100,000 RMB in the bank (which incidently you can withdraw later, though you shouldn't)

Just to make sure that there is no mistake, RMB 100,000 is the min. capital to register a company on the condition that you are a Chinese. If you are not a Chinese, sorry the min. capital seems to be around 1 million us dollars, or you have to find some special Chinese partner.

12:54 pm on Aug 7, 2005 (gmt 0)

10+ Year Member

I am now accepting paypal payment on my chinese website. But they are not snapping. A bit worrying. Has anyone had any success with paypal in the chinese market? At present, this is my only payment solution.

I realise alipay is better - but I am out of China, cannot read Chinese - so I think setting up alipay is a bit too much at this time.


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