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Escrow online payment service to be okayed before Lunar New Year

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- E. Sun Bank may be authorized to provide escrow service to local buyers who shop with online Chinese vendors partnered with Alipay before the Chinese New Year vacation, a regulator recently said.

According to the Banking Bureau under Financial Supervisory Commission, E. Sun Bank (玉山銀行) may become the first bank in Taiwan to be allowed to conduct the service of its kind.

Following the change, consumers may submit payments to mainland-based web stores at local E. Sun Bank branches, which would soon later remit the money to Alipay (支付寶). Alipay is an Alibaba-invested third-party online payment platform which has grabbed the biggest market share in China with over 700 million registered accounts. Alibaba Group is China's largest internet-based e-commerce company.

The Banking Bureau said that Taiwanese buyers' money will be in the safe hands of Alipay, and won't be transferred to Chinese vendors' account until E. Sun Bank and Alipay double check the that goods have been delivered to Taiwanese buyers.

Most notably, with payments processed through banks, consumers are now afforded additional safeguards in the event disputes should arise, such as fraud and counterfeiting, the bureau said. The bureau stated that in the event of a dispute, consumers may ask E. Sun Bank for assistance and resolution.

Previously, regulators only allowed payment processing to flow from Chinese consumers to Taiwanese vendors — following the change the reverse will also be allowed.

Currently, only E. Sun Bank is in the advanced stage of regulatory approval, while reports indicate that First Bank (第一銀行) is seeking for a similar approval, but is unlikely to receive regulators' clearance before the Chinese New Year's holidays.

While E. Sun Bank is the only bank likely to begin processing payments flowing in two directions across the strait, consumers may also utilize third party payment services for the same tasks at banks including Bank of SinoPac (永豐銀行), First Bank, CTBC Bank (中信銀行), Cathay Bank (國泰世華), the Chunghwa Post (中華郵政) and E. Sun Bank.

The bureau stated that the service is expected to be available in time for the holidays, and that all required systems and technical upgrades have been completed. The regulator reiterated that all measures befitting consumers' interests including security and convenience will continue to receive procedural priority.

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