Alibaba rolls out help for merchants amid coronavirus outbreak

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba has announced 20 measures to assist merchants during the coronavirus outbreak, including substantial fee waivers.

In an emotional letter to its merchant partners, the firm paints a grim picture of the challenge posed by the virus to to Chinese nation while emphasising the need of “millions and millions of consumers” for their services, describing the urgency to maintain economic development as a “second battle” alongside the struggle against the coronavirus itself.

Among the measures listed are moves to reduce operational costs on the firm’s platforms, including a waiver on all platform service fees for the first half of 2020 for all Tmall merchants and a free subscription to “Wangpu”, an online tool kit to revamp merchants’ online storefronts, to all sellers on Taobao and Tmall.

The firm is also offering financial support by waiving or lowering interest rates on loans issued by its online bank brand under Ant Financial, Mybank. The bank will provide 12-month loans totalling RMB10 billion (US$1.43 billion) to online merchants registered on

Taobao and Tmall from Hubei – the  province at the centre of the outbreak. The loans will be interest-free for the first three months, and rates will be lowered by 20 per cent from the current level for the remaining nine months. Mybank is also providing 12-month loans to Taobao and Tmall merchants from outside Hubei with interest rates also lowered by 20 per cent. Payments to all qualified merchants on Tmall and Taobao will also receive payments from Mybank as soon as their orders have been fulfilled as a free service until March.

Other measures include a support fund for select chain restaurant operators; subsidies to delivery personnel and an assurance of higher logistics efficiency; the launch of employee-sharing schemes to provide flexible job opportunities to ensure income for staff; and the release of tools for enterprises to accelerate their digitisation as well as allow remote working management for enterprises.


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