Alipay Feature Used to Create Brothel-like Group

alipay-logo.pngAlipay, the mobile payment app from Chinese eCommerce giant Alibaba, has this week been at the centre of a social media storm, after one of the app’s new features was manipulated to create a dating service ‘like a brothel’.

The chairwoman of Ant Financial Services Group, the payment affiliate of Alibaba Holding, was forced to apologise, according to an internal letter seen by Reuters.

In the letter, Lucy Peng confirmed that the company had removed a group from within Alipay’s new social features ‘circles’ called ‘schoolyard diary’. The group allowed only female users to post images publicly and blocked onlookers from commenting or contacting the women unless they had a high enough credit rating – as determined by Ant Financial’s Sesame Credit rating system.

Reuters cited one Alipay user who described the circle as “like a brothel” on Chinese social network Weibo, and threatened a boycott of the service.

Peng said: “These past two days have [sic] the most difficult since I had joined Alipay seven years ago.”

The development comes at a time when the Chinese government continues to push for increased censorship against content of this nature. It is unclear how much of an impact this will have on Alipays future.

Alipay is currently China’s top online wallet service, with over 400 million local users. Ant Financial has recently been making an effort to expand outside of China – looking to replicate the Alipay model in Thailand, after its investment in Thai payment firm Ascend Money.