When it comes to the payments and eCommerce market in Asia Pacific, China and India continue to be key ecosystems based on investments, innovation and industry-relevant news and initiatives.

Here is a summary of the main developments this week.

Two Chinese companies join forces for blockchain payment system

Two of China’s largest financial services companies have agreed to develop a blockchain-based mobile payment system. The two players, namely the Bank of China (BoC) and China UnionPay, will “jointly develop and promote the deployment of distributed ledger and big data technology within mobile payment services”.

In related news, China’s Ministry of Industry and Information Technology (MIIT) is calling for a boost in blockchain development efforts and also suggesting various measures in order to provide a “healthy and orderly development of the industry”, as Finextra points out. Also, USD 20 million in research grants have been awarded to universities in Hong Kong to explore the use of blockchain technology to improve payment systems security.

Ant Financial to boost financial inclusion in Africa

As a result of a partnership with the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa and the International Financial Corporation, Ant Financial has revealed plans to promote digital financial inclusion across the continent via investments and technical assistance. The initiative will target smaller businesses and would look to cater to largely unserved consumers.

Alipay to start operations in Pakistan by end of 2018

The company is currently in the process of taking approval from relevant authorities including the State Bank of Pakistan and Competition Commission of Pakistan to start offering financial services to the country`s customers. As data released by the Pakistan Telecommunication Authority indicates, mobile phone infrastructure and service cover 72% of the population, which encourages the idea of a future growth based on digital payments accessibility.

An end to cryptocurrency ban in India?

In India, discussions between the Government and the cryptocurrency community are underway in regards to introducing new regulatory measures separating cryptocurrency and blockchain until the end of 2018.

“Blockchain is an interesting thing (…) All officials are really trying hard to understand how to separately use blockchain, without cryptocurrency. And understanding a new software takes time”, as senior government official cited by the Innovation Enterprise states.

Quiz of the week

It handled more payments in 2018 than Mastercard, it “controls the world’s largest money-market fund and has made loans to tens of millions of people.”

Hint: the company is the payments and financial services arm of eCommerce giant Alibaba.

Still looking for the right answer? Here it is.