Payment news, April 20

Alipay receives $732 million investment to grow, while the availability of export credit agency financing in the region increases significantly.

Alibaba Group invests Rmb5 billion in Alipay

Alibaba Group has announced it will invest Rmb5 billion ($732 million) into its subsidiary Alipay to fund growth. The cash infusion will be used by the Chinese e-payment engine to enhance infrastructure security, improve the customer experience, grow the number of accounts, build a comprehensive network of merchants and retain and attract new top-tier talent from the payments industry.

"Online payment will continue to play an ever-growing and significant role in the development of e-commerce as well as the stimulation of consumer demand," said Lucy Peng, chief executive of Alipay and chief people officer of Alibaba Group, in a statement. "Consumers expect a safe, convenient and affordable globalised payment platform."

With this stimulus, Alipay will be able to better supplement the group's flagship business and compete against foreign online payment competitors including PayPal.

Asia benefits from rise in US Exim export loans

Export loan authorisations from the Import-Export Bank of the United States (US Exim) to Asia more than doubled to $1.9 billion in the six-months ending March 31 compared to $456 million last year. This increase was part of an overall 125% increase year-on-year in export loans to $13.2 billion globally over the same period. US Exim said the increase in loan values was a response to "tightened liquidity in the market" in a statement.

Notable recent deals in Asia include a $1.1 billion structured trade loan to Air India for the purchase of Boeing aircraft in January and $3 billion in project financing for the Papua New Guinea liquefied natural gas project in December.

Oracle launches Chinese language portal

Oracle Accelerate, a set of applications aimed at addressing the resource planning needs of mid-size companies, launched a new Chinese language portal last week. The new site allows Chinese customers to mix and match Oracle applications with partner solutions offered over Oracle Accelerate for their businesses.

"Oracle Accelerate delivers enterprise class software to mid-size companies with a focus on rapid time to value," said Rajeepan Raguneethan, senior director of Oracle Accelerate and mid-size applications for Asia-Pacific, in a statement. Gao Liqiang, Oracle China general manager of applications, said the new portal was a "good a platform to easily find the right combinations of Oracle applications and Oracle Accelerate solutions".

JBIC signs loan agreement in Kazakhstan

Hiroshi Watanabe, president and chief executive of the Japan Bank for International Cooperation (JBIC), signed a loan agreement worth $133,245 with SKZ-U to build a sulphuric acid production plant in Kzyl-Orda, Kazakhstan. The loan is co-financed with Sumitomo Mitsui Banking Corporation and Mizuho Corporate Bank, JBIC provides a partial guarantee for the loan. It is hoped the financing agreement will strengthen ties between resource-rich Kazakhstan and Japan.

Citi selected to arrange Vinacomin export credit loan

A $200 million export credit loan to the Vietnam National Coal Mineral Industries Group (Vinacomin) to finance the Lam Dong Bauxite Alumina Project will be arranged by Citi's growing export credit financing business in the country. The 13-year loan is provided by Japan's Nippon Export and Investment Insurance (Nexi) and guaranteed by Vietnam's Ministry of Finance.

According to Vinacomin's website, the Lam Dong project will cost a total of $493 million and produce 600,000 metric tons of alumina. Construction began in 2008 and is slated to be completed in the next two years.

Nexi announced that it would cover a $165.4 million loan by the Bank of Tokyo Mitsubishi UFJ and Societe General to build six container ships for export earlier this month.

Oracle continues quest with Korean Air

Korean Air implemented Oracle's enterprise resource planning (ERP) system E-Business Suite 12 to standardise its business infrastructure and decision making, including financial planning. With the new platform, the airline is able to analyse flight profitability within three-hours of departure and streamline purchasing and procurement processes.

"We chose Oracle because it offered end-to-end solutions needed by Korean Air to help us respond flexibly to a rapidly changing business environment," said Sangman Lee, managing vice-president of the ERP division at the airline, in a statement.

During the past two months, Pakistan's Crescent Steel and financial analytics firm Thomson Reuters have also adopted the Oracle E-Business Suite 12.

PayPal adds Malaysian online market place

US e-payment engine PayPal teamed up with, an online market place in Malaysia, to provide additional, safe payment options to customers. The portal is for Malaysian entrepreneurs who want to grow their businesses and is also targeted at consumers that want to buy and sell online. "PayPal's numerous secure payment safety features will encourage consumer confidence and boost the numerous industries operating under," said Shylendra AS Nathan, general manager of, in a statement.

The partnership with follows a similar agreement with Taiwantrade in February. PayPal is in the process of hiring 1,000 new staff in the region as it hopes to capture a greater share of the Asia-Pacific online payment market.

Mobile banking now available for DBS customers

DBS and POS Bank, a manufacturer of payment hardware and systems, now offer an mBanking service for customers' mobile phones, allowing users to review banking and credit card accounts, transfer funds and pay bills from their portable devices.

"We will be taking elements from internet banking that people would like, and this could extend to something like online trading, and deliver that on the small screens of their mobile phones," said Rajan Raju, head of DBS consumer banking group, in a statement.

Standard Bank relationship with China deepens

Complementing its partnership with the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, Standard Bank's more than 4,800 ATMs across its home-base of South Africa now accept China UnionPay cards. The move will make it easier for the rising number of Chinese business travellers and tourists to the African nation.

"We are delighted that we will now be able to assist the thousands of Chinese tourists that visit South Africa every year," said Craig Bond, chief executive of Standard Bank in China, in a statement. "This partnership represents Standard Bank's first cooperation with a Chinese partner in the retail banking sector and there is no doubt that it will help further cement the growing ties between China and South Africa," he said.

Standard Bank spoke with FinanceAsia last month about China's evolving relationship with Africa.

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