Alibaba Group Holding Ltd. (NYSE:BABA) and AXA Insurance, a French multinational insurance services provider, have entered into a strategic global partnership to distribute AXA’s insurance products in the mainland, the French insurance provider said on Friday.
According to an official statement released by the company, Alibaba’s financial services arm, Ant Financial, will also be part of the group. Through Alibaba’s vast e-commerce platform, AXA would explore opportunities to deliver its products to Chinese customers. In addition, this partnership with China’s e-commerce giant would also allow the insurance services provider to expand its footing into the highly lucrative Chinese market.
Thomas Buberl, Deputy Chief Executive AXA Insurance 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 are already the number 1 international insurer. “ Mr. Buberl also indicated that Alibaba and AXA would work together to develop and explore new segments and markets.
Under the contract, the Paris based insurance services provider would use Alibaba’s online retail marketplace AliExpress, to attract customers both local and global, and develop products according to their needs and preferences. To be more exact, AXA would provide insurance products such as, “extended warranties for repairs and/or damaged goods and enhanced online payment protection.”
Moving on, AXA would develop insurance products on Alibaba’s wholesale marketplaces such as 1688.com and Alibaba.com, for all small and medium Enterprises (SMEs) already trading on Alibaba’s platform. Similarly, for Ant Financial's customers, the insurance company would offer travel insurance products for both regional and international travel.
Alibaba Group, which is already facing serious criticism over the counterfeit goods scandal could use AXA's platform to ensure product authenticity and customer safety. The Chinese e-commerce giant, whose operations extend to overseas markets has lost several leading international brands over the issue of fakes. However, for the past few months, the company has been putting tireless efforts into giving its customers and traders an error-free platform.
Kering SA, a French luxury brand maker also filed a lawsuit against the e-commerce giant accusing it of promoting fakes deliberately and profiting from it. Last year, Alibaba also narrowly escaped the US black list for notorious goods, despite having received serious warnings from trade regulators to ensure complete elimination of fakes.
On partnering with AXA, Michael Evans, President, Alibaba Group said, “The collaboration between AXA and Alibaba will enable us to create new solutions and ultimately improve the overall customer experience.”
The complete removal of counterfeit goods from Alibaba’s vast online platform is a long term crusade, and the big hurdle to cleaning the dirt is human greed. But it is important to note that the Chinese e-commerce giant has put in extraordinary efforts despite being isolated by the international community.
Earlier in May, Alibaba was also suspended from the International Anti-counterfeiting Coalition (IACC), a supervisory body for the retail industry after leading member companies threatened to leave the organization if Alibaba’s inclusion did not get terminated.
The company has invested heavily and devoted significant efforts to develop an unparalleled level of technology to put a stop to this counterfeiting work. Recently, the Chinese e-commerce giant also invested in a start-up called eApeiron, which is working with Eastman Kodak Company (NYSE:KODAK), to develop a system that will help in fighting counterfeits, with a focus on the e-commerce industry. According to reports, “The companies are coming up with a technology that places an invisible, digitally traceable marker on products to ensure they are authentic.”
Even Alibaba’s founder Jack Ma has said, “Failing to protect original designs, trademarks, and technology is akin to thievery, and it is detrimental not only to innovation but also to the integrity of the marketplace, and Alibaba will never forgive any act of stealing.”
The deal with AXA could be seen as another step forward taken by the Chinese e-commerce giant to ensure the safety of products and provide its customers a friendly ecosystem, free from fakes. We believe that the international community should acknowledge Alibaba’s efforts to fight fakes with the same intensity with which it criticizes the Chinese e-commerce giant.