Alibaba ends relationship with US bitcoin-based retail startup

Just a day after US Lolli announced a partnership with Alibaba to offer shoppers bitcoin rewards when purchasing items on its marketplaces, the Chinese e-commerce giant has “deactivated the partnership without cause,” according to Lolli.

Why it matters: While Lolli is a US-based startup and the shoppers earning the bitcoin-based rewards are also located in the country, associating Alibaba one of China’s most prominent tech companies with the cryptocurrency could have proved risky.

  • Financial entities in China are prohibited from any dealings involving bitcoin and other cryptocurrency, and fintech giant Ant Financial is an Alibaba affiliate.

Detail: Prior to the statement from Lolli about the termination of the partnership, an Alibaba spokesperson told TechNode that “it does not have any partnership” with the firm and that a previous TechNode story about the partnership “is not true.” 

  • Alibaba Group later characterized its relationship with Lolli as an “affiliate marketing program” brokered by a subcontractor of one of its contractors without the company’s knowledge. 
  • Alibaba also said its “contractor is terminating the relationship with the subcontractor who was working with Lolli,” and that Lolli “never had the right to claim a partnership with or imply one with Alibaba Group, the parent of”  
  • Lolli called the deactivation a “rare and unforeseen occurrence,” but left open the possibility of working with Alibaba in the future. Lolli users can still get bitcoin back when shopping on AliExpress and Alibaba

Context: Originally announced on Singles Day, the partnership would have allowed for US-based shoppers to earn up to 5% of their purchases on Alibaba back in bitcoin, with items being shipped from China to the US. 

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