The People’s Bank of China issued electronic payment licenses to 27 qualified third-party payment platforms in China on May 26th 2011 Co Ltd (Alibaba Group); (Tencent Holdings Ltd) and Shanpay (Shanda Interactive Entertainment Ltd) were the three most prominent recipients of licenses to operated electronic payment systems in China.  Alipay, China’s largest e-payment system stated that the license would allow the company to handle foreign exchange transactions, internet payments, mobile payments and debit card services.  The Alibaba Group transferred Alipay to a domestic company controlled by Mr. Ma in order to be able to receive a license.  This transfer however led to a spat between Alibaba and its minority shareholders Yahoo and Softbank.

According to an analysis by Analysys International E-payments are playing an ever increasing role in China’s 12th Five-Year Plan, which runs from 2011-2015.  China’s online payment market has been growing at an annual rate of more than 100% over the past five years – attracting more companies to enter the sector. The industry totaled RMB 600 billion by the end of last year, and the figure could exceed RMB 1 trillion in 2010.  Source Business China