Alibaba and Ant Financial announce joint investment in food delivery platform

Alibaba and Ant Financial announce joint investment in food delivery platform

Alibaba and Ant Financial have agreed to invest 3 billion yuan ($483 million) each in a new venture called Koubei, which is focusing primarily on food and beverage delivery in China. Koubei – which means “word of mouth” in Chinese –  has been a dormant brand in Alibaba’s armoury, but will now spearhead the attack on the food sector.

Alibaba will transfer its online food ordering and delivery platform Taodiandian to the Koubei platform.

Ant Financial, which is an affiliate of Alibaba, will gradually fold its offline merchant services in retail, healthcare and vending machines into the joint venture too, according to sources.

Customers using Ant Financial’s Alipay Wallet app and Alibaba’s Mobile Taobao app will be able to access Koubei. Alipay will form the payment method for Koubei’s services.

Koubei’s CEO Samuel Fan commented: “Consolidating our resources under Koubei allows us to capture opportunities that navigate both the offline and online markets.

“Harnessing the power of mobile commerce and data technology, Koubei will build synergies between offline consumption and internet-based offerings that will transform China’s local services market.”

Market observers said that the move to drive new investment into Koubei indicates that Alibaba is keen to take its rivalry with fellow Chinese e-commerce giant Tencent into the food sector. Tencent is one of the major investors in the Shanghai-based food delivery service Ele.me and has a slice of the restaurant review site Dianping and – to illustrate how complicated the Chinese e-commerce sector can be – it is also a shareholder in JD.com.

 

 

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