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Banks eye third-party online payment market

TAIPEI -- Local banks are setting their eyes on the third-party online payment business as a potential growth driver as Taiwanese e-commerce continues to grow, market analysts and statistics showed Thursday.

Figures from the Department of Commerce of the Ministry of Economic Affairs showed that local e-commerce sales hit NT$764.5 billion (US$25.31 billion) in 2013 and could grow to NT$870 billion in 2014 and to beyond NT$1 trillion in 2015.

In addition to new opportunities for online vendors, the expansion of e-comme

rce has left bankers' mouths watering over the room for growth in third-party payment processors like U.S.-based PayPal, analysts said.

Banks have indicated the new business could open up a new source of revenue for them in an already saturated banking market.

Last year, E. Sun Bank (玉山銀行) led the local banking sector in announcing cooperation with Taiwan-based AllPay Financial Information Service Co. (歐付寶) to offer online accounts to AllPay customers for purchases.

Bank SinoPac (永豐銀行) followed into the new sector soon after with its own third-party online payment brand, Fun Cashier (豐掌櫃).

At the end of last year, Taiwan Cooperative Bank (合作金庫) announced that it would work with China-based third-party payment operator Alipay (支付寶), a unit of China's largest e-commerce company, a collaboration which has attracted attention from online shoppers since it launched last month.

According to Taiwan Cooperative Bank, Chinese consumers are able to pay for purchases of Taiwanese goods through Alipay in Chinese yuan, which is paid to banks in U.S. dollars and paid to Taiwanese vendors in Taiwan dollars.

Taiwan Cooperative Bank Executive Vice President Chen Mei-tsu said the bank is in talks with Alipay to provide the same services to Taiwanese consumers who want to buy Chinese products, a move which is expected to broaden the bank's reach in the online payment realm.

Working with Alipay has allowed Taiwan Cooperative to offer another option to consumers in addition to credit cards and ATM services, she added.

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