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Still, efforts to establish a reliable credit system foundered because China lacked a third-party credit scoring entity.What it did have by the end of 2011 were 356 million smartphone users.
“Now you need two suitcases to buy a house, not just one,” says Zennon Kapron, who heads the financial tech consultancy Kapronasia.He could have paid his electricity, gas, and internet bills in Alipay’s City Service section.Like many young Chinese who had become enamored of the mobile payment services offered by Alipay and We Chat, Liu stopped bringing his wallet when he left the house.Their chief innovation was using computer-driven statistical analysis to translate people’s personal details and financial history into a simple score, predicting how likely they were to pay back loans.Before FICO, credit bureaus relied in part on gossip culled from people’s landlords, neighbors, and local grocers.He booked doctors’ appointments there, skipping the chaotic lines for which Chinese hospitals are famous.
He added friends in Alipay’s built-in social network.
Whenever Liu opened Alipay on his phone, he saw a neat grid of icons that vaguely resembled the home screen on his Samsung.
Some of the icons were themselves full-blown third-party apps.
Facebook knows if you like Tasty cooking videos or Breitbart News.
Uber knows where you go and how you behave en route.
If he wanted to, he could access Airbnb, Uber, or Uber’s Chinese rival Didi, entirely from inside Alipay.