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A Big Player in China: The Reasons Why Alibaba Is More Than a Successful E-Commerce

I write about technology. I am especially interested in social media and cloud computing.

Have you ever purchased something from Alibaba because of the cheap prices? Many people accept to wait for long delivery times and purchase items directly from China, in order to save money on their purchases in exchange. Alibaba is essentially seen by common people as a cheaper alternative to Amazon or eBay, a big marketplace with discounted prices where you pay just with long waiting times for getting your orders delivered to your house. The fact is that this is simply 1% of what Alibaba is. The same can be said of Amazon, which is essentially seen as a big marketplace by common people, just like it happens with the Chinese company. This article is going to highlight why Alibaba is more than a cheap marketplace where you can buy stuff delivered directly from China.

Alibaba is a main protagonist of development of China. It plays a key role in innovation through the support of technology.

Alibaba is a main protagonist of development of China. It plays a key role in innovation through the support of technology.

Alibaba has been founded in 1999 by Jack Ma, one of the most influential businessmen in China, in order to allow Chinese manufacturers to get discovered by foreign buyers: this is essentially the main mission of the company, providing the service almost everyone knows Alibaba for. Still, Alibaba growth has gone beyond this, exactly like Google empire has not been built just around a search engine, but also by releasing many other services that today are forming a large internet conglomerate.

The entrance of a Google building in Dublin. Google is not only a search engine, but also a conglomerate of different services. The same, Alibaba is successful not only for their online commercial platform, but also for other products.

The entrance of a Google building in Dublin. Google is not only a search engine, but also a conglomerate of different services. The same, Alibaba is successful not only for their online commercial platform, but also for other products.

Alibaba Is A Big FinTech Company

A FinTech company is essentially providing an alternative to traditional banking with the help of new technologies. The most famous example of a FinTech company is PayPal: the service can be theoretically used in place of a banking account for just sending and receiving money, paying online and even in shops accepting this form of payment. What about Alibaba? Alibaba owns a subsidiary company called Ant Group: it is not only the highest-valued FinTech company in the world, but also a top valued unicorn company. If common people believe Alibaba to be simply 'the alternative to eBay and Amazon', the real fact is that we are dealing with a company that has even surpassed PayPal in terms of digital payments. Ant Group owns an app which can be considered an alternative to PayPal, Alipay. One could wonder why Alipay, an app which is surely not much used in Western countries, has even surpassed PayPal. The answer cannot be more simple: it is one of the two most used digital wallets in China (the other one is WeChat Pay). Both Alipay and WeChat Pay allow people to send and receive money online and in almost any shop in China and in some of the ones managed by Chinese people in the rest of the world. Alipay goes further, by allowing people not only to send and receive money, but also to invest them through a special managed fund which has been a little vault for the savings of many Chinese people over the years. Have you ever imagined to invest your PayPal balance without cashing it out to a traditional banking account? If you live in China you can theoretically keep most of your relevant assets just as an Alipay balance. In theory you can do the same even if you do not live in China, providing that you own a Chinese banking account (Alipay needs to verify your identity in this way, otherwise your use of the app is very limited) and you shop only in few stores (mostly run by Chinese people or by big chains) that accept Alipay. In China, a country with a rapid technologic growth, FinTech companies and mobile payment apps play a key role. If you can imagine your life in a Western country even without a PayPal account (which is a smart and easy way to send and receive money, especially when making online purchases, but not something perceived as essential), living in China and not having apps like Alipay and WeChat Pay would make you basically like an alien. Alibaba, the 'alternative to Amazon and eBay', is a leading financial company backed up by technology, owning one of the two most used payment apps in China. The following video better describes how paying in China is really simplified by the fact mobile payment apps here are seen as an essential service.

Alibaba is The Leading Cloud Computing Platform in China

An ad related to the Alibaba Cloud Tech Show

An ad related to the Alibaba Cloud Tech Show

By talking about cloud computing we are dealing with a topic which interests mostly developers and people expert or passionate about internet and technology. Cloud computing nowadays plays a key role in innovation. Cloud technologies allow companies to evolve their online presence with a set of tools that may feature simple web servers (hosting platforms), buckets (sort of vaults where you can easily and safely store data, like you would do with Google Drive, iCloud, Dropbox or OneDrive), arriving to Artificial Intelligence technology or Internet of Things solutions. By talking about cloud computing, even Amazon looks definitely more than a giant e-commerce: Amazon, through AWS, is the leading cloud platform in the world. Many famous services and websites (including the same HubPages, TikTok and several media) are running on AWS at the moment. If you have never heard about AWS and you was figuring Amazon just as the biggest online store in the world, you may have just changed your view in a second after reading this. The same, of course, applies to Alibaba: in this case it is correct to call the Chinese company 'an alternative to Amazon', simply it is not just an alternative e-commerce: it is also an alternative cloud computing platform, called Alibaba Cloud. Does Alibaba Cloud have any relevance in the world? Of course it has: first of all it is the leading cloud platform in China, then it is also growing its popularity in the rest of Asia, even if there is the ambition to directly compete worldwide with Amazon, Google, Microsoft, IBM and other big companies providing cloud services to the world.

A view of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, China. Hangzhou is where Alibaba is headquartered. Like many other Chinese cities, it looks very futuristic.

A view of Hangzhou, capital of Zhejiang, China. Hangzhou is where Alibaba is headquartered. Like many other Chinese cities, it looks very futuristic.

Conclusions

Alibaba provides several services mostly targeted to the Chinese market, even if the company is mostly famous for being a big online e-commerce platform connecting Chinese resellers with foreign buyers and for being the 'alternative to Amazon' in China, thanks to Taobao online shop. Still, the reason why Alibaba is so successful is not just because of the e-commerce services: the company is also into financial services and cloud computing, by being a leader in both. Alibaba shares the same destiny of Amazon, which is mostly known as a giant online store by common people despite being also a leader in cloud computing services.

© 2020 Alessio Ganci

Comments

Shafqat M from Srinagar, Kashmir on November 15, 2020:

You bring some pretty stuff to fore about Alibaba. I am sure readers will benefit from your article!