Beginning October 12, individual Alipay users will be charged 0.1 percent on amounts they transfer from their Alipay accounts into bank accounts after the first 20,000 yuan, the company announced on September 12.
Users, however, will be able to earn Alipay reward points by making online or offline payments. They can use the points to offset the transfer fee, with each point equivalent to one yuan of transfer amount not subject to the transfer fee.
Business users, including sellers and customers on the e-commerce site, Taobao, will not be affected by the new rules.
Users transferring to overseas accounts also won’t be affected, according to Alipay staff.
But the overseas transfers still will exact a fee. Alipay makes transfers to foreign banks via the Bank of Shanghai. The bank will charge 50 yuan on every transfer, with each transaction limited to a maximum of 30,000 yuan. Individual users can make two overseas transfers a day.
China's third-party payment industry has boomed over the past few years. It handled online transactions worth 24.2 trillion yuan in 2015, up 42 percent from the previous year, according to the Payment & Clearing Association of China, an industry group whose members include banks and payment-service providers.
Nonetheless, most third-party payment platforms say they are struggling to turn a profit because they must pay fees to the banks for transfers. Tencent says bank fees for the transfers are costing the company tens of millions of yuan a month
Conversely, in order to compete with third–party payment platforms, major banks in China united to launch free transfer services. Since February, five Chinese state-owned banks won’t charge fees for users who transfer or remit money via mobile bank, whether inter-bank or trans-regional. Similarly, in July, 12 Chinese commercial banks launched a “Commercial Bank Online Financial Union,” which will provide users with free online transfer services.
(By Carina Zheng ,Louis Berney)