Growing a global forest: Ant financial, Alipay, and the Ant Forest
KeywordsCorporate social responsibility
Finance and Financial Management
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AbstractThe case is set in January 2019, when Di Xu, the team leader of Ant Forest, a lifestyle app within the Chinese payment app Alipay, is reviewing the strategy for Ant Forest. Ant Forest was started in 2016 as a corporate social responsibility (CSR) project under Alipay. It was financially supported by Alipay’s parent company, Ant Financial. From the time of its launch, Ant Forest has managed to attract almost 400 million users to its cause of promoting ‘green’, low carbon emissions behaviour among the lifestyles of its users. It has done so by letting users of Ant Forest win ‘energy points’ through low-carbon behaviours (such as walking to work instead of driving, or reducing their use of plastic), and then accumulating the points towards planting a virtual tree of their choice. When a user had accumulated a sufficient number of energy points, Ant Forest would, through its partners, plant a real, physical tree on their behalf in the deserts of Inner Mongolia. The uptake of the Ant Forest app has exceeded the team’s expectations, and there has been considerable positive feedback received from users who have experienced good social and health benefits through their use of Ant Forest. Di Xu is now evaluating the next steps for Ant Forest. Should the Ant Forest initiative be taken overseas? If so, which features of the app, and the business model, should be implemented?
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