French insurer AXA on Friday announced a partnership with Alibaba and the Chinese e-commerce giant’s financial arm, Ant Financial, to expand in China.
As part of the deal, AXA’s insurance will be offered on Alibaba’s business-to-business marketplaces for the small- and medium-sized firms on the platforms. AXA (AXAHY) also plans to market warranty and online payment protection on Alibaba’s international site, while Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate that owns China’s biggest online payments system, will start offering AXA travel insurance for Chinese tourists and their 120 million annual international trips.
For Alibaba (BABA), the deal is a way to reassure its small but growing number of international customers who regularly read stories in the international press about fake products and brand copies flooding Alibaba’s biggest market at home, Taobao.com.
On its global site AliExpress, the hope is that AXA’s products for extended warranties and repairs may coax more customers into trying the platform. “Our collaboration with industry-leader AXA is a key part of Alibaba’s globalization strategy and our vision to enable small businesses and consumers alike to enjoy the convenience and benefits of e-commerce in a safe trading environment,” Michael Evans, President, Alibaba Group, said in a release.
AXA already has a big presence in China. Its insurance joint venture with ICBC is the largest foreign insurance operation in the country.
But the Alibaba partnership is about joining the winners, and Alibaba is one of China’s biggest. A host of foreign companies have already tacitly admitted that Alibaba is the king of e-commerce in China. On Alibaba’s consumer marketplaces, even rival Amazon has a storefront.
In a release, Thomas Buberl, Deputy CEO of AXA, said, “Thanks to Alibaba’s unrivaled knowledge of its home market, this partnership will also help us further accelerate our development in China, where we already are the [No. 1] international insurer.“