Jack Ma's Alibaba has launched a blockchain-based payment service

Alibaba Group co-founder and executive chairman Jack Ma speaks during a news conference in Hong Kong, China, June 25, 2018. REUTERS/Bobby Yip - RC1A80B6EE30

A blockchain based service will allow its Filipino users to send remittances back home safely and securely. Image: REUTERS/Bobby Yip

Lucinda Shen
Writer, Business Insider
Our Impact
What's the World Economic Forum doing to accelerate action on China?
The Big Picture
Explore and monitor how China is affecting economies, industries and global issues
A hand holding a looking glass by a lake
Crowdsource Innovation
Get involved with our crowdsourced digital platform to deliver impact at scale
Stay up to date:


Though Alibaba co-founder Jack Ma may think Bitcoin is in a bubble, the firm still believes in blockchain, the technology underlying cryptocurrencies.

Ant Financial, Alibaba’s $150 billion financial affiliate, launched a blockchain-based service that lets Hong Kong’s large Filipino working population send funds to family back home quickly and securely. For now, the program is in a three-month trial period during which transaction fees will be waived.

“We are very excited to introduce this new remittance solution to our users in Hong Kong, and in particular to the Filipino community in the city,” said Jennifer Tan, CEO of Alipay Payment Services in Hong Kong. “What used to be a long process of physically going to a remittance booth, queuing in line for hours and filling out forms, is now easily and securely done over the mobile phone in just a few seconds.”

The blockchain-based service is being launched in tandem with Standard Chartered and GCash, Ant’s partnership with Philippines’ Global Telecom

Blockchain technology, a ledger of constantly updating transactions held by multiple parties, has become the buzzword among financial institutions in recent years. Its believers say that it has the potential to cheapen, speed up, and increase the security of transactions.

Image: Zenobia Ahmen/The Conversation

During the unveiling of the feature, provided on mobile apps GCash and Ant Financial’s Alipay, a Filipino worker in Hong Kong demonstrated her ability to transfer funds in three seconds. Such remittances are a significant portion of income for Filipino workers—representing about 10.2% of the Philipplines’ GDP in 2016, according to data from the World Bank. In 2017, Filipinos sent about $33 billion back home, making it the world’s third-largest market for remittances.

It’s perhaps part of the reason why several companies, not only those in the cryptocurrency space, have sought to speed up remittances—disrupting an industry dominated by the likes of MoneyGram and Western Union. Toast, a Singapore-based startup, for example, says it can send remittances home in under two minutes. The firm serves both Hong Kong and the Philippines.

Alibaba’s rival, Tencent, has also launched a Hong Kong-Philippines remittance service through its app, WeChat. EMQ CEO Max Liu, a tech startup that worked with Tencent to develop the service, said the transfers took under 10 minutes.

Have you read?
Don't miss any update on this topic

Create a free account and access your personalized content collection with our latest publications and analyses.

Sign up for free

License and Republishing

World Economic Forum articles may be republished in accordance with the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives 4.0 International Public License, and in accordance with our Terms of Use.

The views expressed in this article are those of the author alone and not the World Economic Forum.

Related topics:
ChinaBlockchainFinancial and Monetary Systems
World Economic Forum logo
Global Agenda

The Agenda Weekly

A weekly update of the most important issues driving the global agenda

Subscribe today

You can unsubscribe at any time using the link in our emails. For more details, review our privacy policy.

Davos 2024: Special Address by H.E. Li Qiang, Premier of the State Council of the People’s Republic of China

January 17, 2024

Liming Chen

January 14, 2024

About Us



Partners & Members

  • Join Us

Language Editions

Privacy Policy & Terms of Service

© 2024 World Economic Forum