Alibaba’s UCWeb plans big India investment, to partner Paytm

Besides Paytm, the group also has investments in Indian ecommerce firm Snapdeal. (Reuters)

Chinese internet major Alibaba’s mobile business arm is forming a strategic group that will explore opportunities to increase investments in India and has set no ceiling for deployment of funds. The group’s digital media platform UCWeb is also planning to collaborate with Paytm and other ecommerce firms to push its content ecosystem.
“The first one we may see a collaboration between UCWeb India and Paytm and e-commerce platform in which Alibaba has invested,” Alibaba Mobile Business Group President He Xiaopeng told PTI in an interview.

Besides Paytm, the group also has investments in Indian ecommerce firm Snapdeal. He is also co-founder of UC Web which today announced that it will pay minimum of Rs 50,000 per month to top 1,000 content creators or writers on its We-Media platform.

We-Media is UCWeb’s platform where users can register and post their own content like articles, photos, videos etc.
UCWeb, which is looking for space among Google and Facebook, has announced Rs 5 crore investment as reward to push user generated content in India. The company in January had announced its plans to invest Rs 200 crore for driving content distribution in India over the next 2 years.

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Xiaopeng said that during his team’s stay in India, they are having discussions with venture capitalists to co-invest in the area of media content distribution and development of content ecosystem in India.

“We are forming our strategic group here specifically looking into the investment strategy for India. Overall, Alibaba would most probably do strategic investment and strategic acquisition. We would not like to disclose any fixed figure now but it will be very big. There is no cap for it because strategy is for long term,” Xiaopeng said.

Alibaba group holds majority stake in One97 Communications and significant stake in digital payment firm Paytm.
Alibaba’s UCWeb has firmed up its strategy to be one of the choice for users among Google and Facebook. The company has over 50 per cent market share (as per stat counter) in Indian mobile browser segment.

UCWeb’s content distribution platform UC News, launched in June 2016, has registered 80 million monthly active users in India as of February 2017, Alibaba Mobile Business Group GM-Overseas Business Kenny Ye said.
When asked if UCWeb has plans to partnering with telecom companies to built infrastructure like Google and Facebook are doing to enhance their reach, Xiaopeng responded affirmatively.

“That is yes. Like Chrome (Google’s internet browser) has been doing for telecommunication partners, we are also exploring this kind of opportunity with telecom partners. In other ways, there has already been some kind of establishments.

For example, Paytm, our partner, is already in infrastructural level of digital payment. It is going to have chemistry with us in the future,” Xiaopeng said.
He said UCWeb will soon enter into online ticket bookings space but did not disclose details about it.

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