Alibaba Leads Charge In COVID-19 Recovery In China

As China was facing the quick spread of COVID-19 earlier this year, many of the country’s biggest tech companies stepped in to help combat the virus.

Ride-hailing company Didi helped to transport medical workers, while Tencent rolled out a map so its WeChat users could find the nearest clinic. Search engine Baidu utilized its data to help find suspected patients, and AI software developer SenseTime is assisting in an algorithm to improve the accuracy of identifying people with a fever in a crowd. 

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eCommerce giant Alibaba has also been doing its part. Founder Jack Ma announced that he is donating 100 million yuan ($14.5 million), with 40 million allocated towards creating a vaccine. Alibaba also partnered with Global Health Drug Discovery Institute on an open-source coronavirus data platform and has made its AI-powered platform available to global institutions for viral gene sequencing, protein screening and other research capabilities. The company has also shipped medical equipment, from face masks to ventilators, to countries around the globe.

And now Alipay, part of Alibaba’s Ant Financial Services Group, has announced a series of initiatives to support small businesses in Wuhan as the city emerges from lockdown, with plans to expand coverage across China later.

Alipay’s 900 million users will be able to easily locate merchants and their products and services in Wuhan. In addition, merchants can use the platform to apply for loans offered by the “Zero Contact” campaign jointly launched by MYbank. Alipay is also working with Alibaba local consumer services to promote the creation of digital “zero contact” solutions for restaurants, and will also provide free training courses via its app to equip service industry workers with the skills and knowledge they need to fully tap into the digital technologies offered by the platform.

"In every hardship, there lies an opportunity to envision and create a brighter future. We firmly believe that, after the COVID-19 outbreak, service providers who are able to tap into the power of digital technologies will come out the strongest," said Simon Hu, Chief Executive Officer of Ant Financial. "We are committed to supporting SMEs and will continue to provide leading digital technology solutions to support the recovery of small businesses and help them prepare for the future."