Alipay Is Testing the Social Feature ‘Interest Community’

Tech Planet has exclusively learned that Alipay is currently testing a social feature called ‘Interest Community.’ It aims to help users discover interesting things and find playmates. Users can experience trendy and cool lifestyles within the community and meet like-minded individuals with similar interests. Currently, this feature is still in the testing phase.

This is Alipay’s another attempt at community-based social services, following the launch of ‘Circles’ in 2016. However, compared to the previous ‘Circles’ feature, the gameplay of interest communities is more diverse and better suited to the current popular trend of companion-based social interactions. By using interests as a bond, it helps users find common social points with each other.

Not only Alipay, but for many internet platforms, the challenging ‘social’ aspect remains a tempting business. After all, a well-established user relationship network is particularly important for internet products. The relationship network serves as a link between various services within the ecosystem and can help build a strong interconnected ecosystem for the platform. Social interaction plays a crucial role in improving user engagement and increasing commercial revenue.

Because of this, players from all walks of life have never stopped trying out social interactions, from traditional social networking to short video-based social networking, and now to interest-based social networking, close friend-based social networking, and partner-based social networking. In recent years, leading domestic internet platforms have launched well-known products such as Douyin’s Duoshan, ByteDance’s Flipchat, Alibaba‘s Real and many others.

Among them, socializing based on common interests has become the focus of various parties’ layout. For example, in the third quarter financial report of 2023, Tencent specifically mentioned that QQ is enriching the functions of QQ channels and using software tools such as voice chat and activity management to help operate interest communities for users with common hobbies, activities or membership status. In mid-2023, Xiaohongshu (a community for sharing recommendations) launched a social function called ‘Find Companions’ in its main app, where users can find other users with similar interests online and engage in activities together.

Alipay’s ‘Interest Community’ service is currently in a small-scale testing phase. The entrance is located above the message page within the Alipay app. By clicking on it, you can enter the Interest Community interface.

In interest-based communities, the social form is centered around groups. Users can join multiple interest groups such as hiking enthusiasts, cycling world, and fishing buddies based on their own hobbies. After joining a group, users can see discussion posts made by other users, such as guides and experiences. Additionally, they can also create their own posts for discussions.

Through various forms of ‘interest groups’, a gathering place can be formed for like-minded enthusiasts, where users can interact with relatively low barriers.

In the interest community, there is also a section called ‘Popular Nearby Activities’ which focuses on offline events. For example, hiking activities will display information such as time, location, activity details, and fees. Once users find companions, they can sign up to participate.

Additionally, the system will recommend interesting groups and posts to allow users to find suitable companions and groups.

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Overall, Alipay’s interest community is a social feature based on interests, while also incorporating the popular trend of companion-based social interactions. With this, users can filter potential partners based on their own interests, preferences, and needs to participate in offline activities together. This increases the diversity and personalization of social interactions, helping users find better-matched social companions.

Due to the current testing phase, there is limited content in various interest groups within Alipay. Whether there will be increased efforts in operating these interest groups in the future will be a key factor in cultivating the atmosphere of the interest community.

As a super app, Alipay is no longer just a payment tool, but a national-level application with diverse ecosystems. The diversification of the ecosystem has led to an increasing demand for social interaction from users. According to data, Alipay also has a certain social foundation. The recently released ‘2023 Alipay Annual Discovery Report’ shows that nearly 20% of young users on Alipay continuously ‘steal’ energy from their friends throughout the day. Nearly 15 million users share the responsibility of raising virtual chickens with their friends, forming a ‘minimalist social network’ within Alipay.