Alipay logs record sales on China's Singles' Day

It’s almost time for the world’s largest online shopping day

In China, Alibaba's main rival, online retailer JD.com, said sales had topped $16.7 billion - though the tallies are not comparable because JD tracks transactions starting from November 1 through to the actual day.

The e-commerce giant will show no signs of taking their foot of the pedal this year, courting more than 140,000 brands and 1 million merchants for this year's festival.

Pharrell Williams, British pop singer-songwriter Jessie J, tennis superstar Maria Sharapova and Real Madrid icon Luis Figo attended this year's 11.11 Countdown Gala Celebration.

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Alibaba, the Chinese online retailer akin to Amazon who's also eyeing global expansion, uses Singles' Day to test its supply-chain and update local Chinese retailers' computers systems so that they can get in on the event by acting as delivery and storage centers.

China's Singles' Day sales on TMall hit 10 billion yuan (about 1.5 billion USA dollars) at just three minutes past midnight on Saturday.

Alibaba offers an e-commerce marketplace, while JD.com has a more vertical operation like Amazon ( AMZN ).

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Alibaba seized on Double 11 as China's online answer to the late-November US "Black Friday" shopping rush. The day of shopping brings in more sales than Black Friday and Cyber Monday combined in the US. Alipay processed 1.5 billion payment transactions in total, up 41% from 2016, and processed 256,000 transactions per second at peak.

But environmentalists complain of ecological harm, accusing Alibaba and other e-commerce companies of fuelling a culture of excessive over-consumption and mountains of waste. "I have often emptied my "shopping cart" on Singles Day", Zheng said.

Alibaba said hundreds of millions of Southeast Asian consumers will be able to access Taobao this "Singles Day".

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It already has a substantial stake in Lazada, an online retailer in Southeast Asia - a hot e-commerce battleground - and recently launched an electronic trading hub in Malaysia, its first outside China. "We will see tens of billions of dollars injected overseas (by Alibaba)", said Mr Li Chengdong, a Beijing-based independent e-commerce analyst.

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