BTC China has hired former Alipay chief analyst Patrick Dai as co-founder and chief operating officer, the company announced recently.

Alipay started out as an online escrow service to facilitate transactions on e-commerce giant Alibaba’s online marketplace Taobao. It has now has grown into the world’s largest third-party online payment solution, handling over 8.5 million transactions per day with a volume that exceeds 2bn CNY ($323.4m).

The Chinese exchange’s decision to hire Dai is widely seen by the local industry as a sign it is stepping up efforts to leverage its large trading volume to enter the online payments business – the potential of which has already been demonstrated by companies such as BitPay and Coinbase.

Speaking to CoinDesk, Dai said “payments will be a priority” for the company.

Industry experience

Dai’s stint as chief analyst at Chinese household name Alipay lasted from 2007 to 2011. During his time at the company, Dai said, he helped build the company’s online credit-scoring system, with which the service determines the sizes of loans applicants may receive.

After leaving Alipay in 2011, he joined and became the vice president of the online financing arm of Suning, one of the largest Chinese electronic appliance retail chains.

When asked what has prevented major Chinese retailers like Suning from accepting bitcoin payments, Dai replied that it has “more to do with awareness than regulations”.

Dai denied he was “exceptional” in leaving the more traditional online financing sector to join a bitcoin company, saying:

“Almost everyone I know in the Internet industry knows about bitcoin. They either recognize its value, or are still on the fence and waiting.”

Optimistic as to the digital currency’s future, he said that, as the new technology become more accepted, more talent would be attracted to enter the space.

Catering to demand

Launched on 18th November, BTC China’s online payment arm JustPay is one of a cluster of Chinese bitcoin services launched within months of each other to cater to the fast-growing demand for cross-border money transfers.

A BTC China representative told CoinDesk that JustPay has successfully signed up 14 merchants since its launch, and has a total transaction volume of 1.24m CNY ($200,000).

One of those merchants, Jingubang (JGB), is an e-commerce website selling overseas merchandise. The website lists JustPay as one of the three payment options alongside from Alipay and Tenpay – both products of two of the largest Chinese Internet companies.

On JGB, shoppers can pay in bitcoin via JustPay, while the merchants can instantly convert their cryptocurrency payments back into one of the three fiat currencies currently supported: CNY, USD and HKD.

China shops image via Shutterstock

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