Alibaba’s payment app Alipay hit with sexually explicit content backlash

Alipay hit by sexual content backlash

Alibaba’s mobile payment app Alipay was this week in the middle of a social media backlash, after new social features were manipulated to create a sexually explicit dating service.

Lucy Peng, the chairwoman of Ant Financial, the payment affiliate of Alibaba, was forced to apologise, according to an internal letter seen by Reuters.

She announced that the company had to remove a group from its ‘circles’ social feature called ‘schoolyard diary’ that some social media users had called out as being ‘like a brothel’.

"These past two days have the most difficult since I had joined Alipay 7 years ago," she said.

According to Reuters, Alipay is China’s number one payment app and had recently started to look outside China for expansion. The company had announced plans to expand in Thailand via a partnership with Thai payment firm Ascend.

The scandal may not impact Alipay’s success instantly, as China’s mobile payments market continues to grow. An estimate earlier this year from eMarketer suggests that 195 million Chinese people will use mobile payments to pay for goods this year alone.

Join us, it's free.

Become a member to get access to:

  • Exclusive Content
  • Daily and specialised newsletters
  • Research and analysis

Join us, it’s free.

Want to read this article and others just like it? All you need to do is become a member of The Drum. Basic membership is quick, free and you will be able to receive daily news updates.