BEIJING Oct 24 A group of small-business owners
in China has expanded a protest against higher fees to target
Alipay, the country's leading online payment platform, after its
corporate sibling, Taobao Mall, announced up to tenfold fee
hikes for some businesses using its service, Chinese media
reported on Monday.
Alibaba Group is affiliated with Alipay and owns Taobao
Mall, which announced on Oct. 10 that it would raise the annual
fee for business owners to the maximum of 60,000 yuan ($9,400)
in 2012 from 6,000 yuan ($940) and raise required deposits to
150,000 yuan from 10,000 yuan.
The company said the fee increase was necessary to improve
the overall standard of sellers on the platform, keeping the
fees as collateral for sellers to reach certain service and
sales targets and giving back a portion for those that hit the
That triggered a wave of online protests from thousands of
small-business owners and their supporters, Chinese media
Days later, Alibaba Group said it would invest 1.8 billion
yuan to aid the development of small-to-medium sized enterprises
on Taobao Mall. Alibaba said the investment was aimed at helping
small business pursue higher quality goods and services and
protect the interests of consumers.
It said 1 billion yuan of the amount would be used to offset
half of the increased deposits and 500 million yuan would be
used to help some firms obtain loans.
Alibaba Group, which also owns Taobao, Etao and Hong
Kong-listed Alibaba.com , is about 40 percent-owned by
Yahoo Inc .
The Chinese government has called for the establishment of
new rules to govern the country's booming e-commerce sector.
Still dissatisfied, a group of merchants organised last
Friday to simultaneously withdraw money from their Alipay
accounts, according to China's Southern Metropolis Daily.
The report did not say how many businesses participated in
the protest, but Alipay confirmed the move on its official
An Alipay spokesperson said the company had not been
affected by the "malicious action" in what the Global Times
newspaper described as "large-scale simultaneous withdrawals" of
money from their accounts.
Taobao Mall had 32.8 percent of China's 54.2 billion yuan in
the business-to-consumer online marketplace in the second
quarter, according to data from Analysys International. Taobao
Mall's nearest rival, 360buy, had 12.4 percent of the market.