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SMEs to get easier access to China’s manufacturing powerhouse


Financial services platform WorldFirst has introduced a new global sourcing payment solution, Cross-border Pay, in collaboration with 1688, a major e-marketplace under Alibaba Group. 

This initiative aims to simplify global procurement for Australian businesses by granting them access to a wide range of competitively-priced quality products from over 10 million manufacturers in China.

With the expansion of its digital e-commerce solutions in Australia, WorldFirst seeks to streamline global procurement processes for domestic businesses, aiding in safeguarding their bottom line and fostering growth amid escalating operational costs.

Cross-border Pay offers Australian buyers the convenience of making payments to 1688 sellers without the necessity of setting up an onshore bank account in China. Key features include:

Easy set-up: Integration with Alipay in 1688 enables buyers to swiftly connect and commence sourcing within minutes.

Direct and fast payment: Buyers can make payments directly from their World Account to 1688 suppliers, with payments typically arriving in seconds.

Cost-saving: By sourcing directly from factories and paying in foreign currency with competitive exchange rates, businesses can realize significant cost savings.

Despite signs of cooling inflation in the Australian economy, the rising costs of doing business persist. Coupled with higher interest rates impacting consumer confidence and disposable incomes, Australian businesses are increasingly challenged in planning and investing, as highlighted by the Reserve Bank of Australia. Consequently, they are seeking global sourcing opportunities to diversify products and costs while mitigating the impact of supply chain disruptions.

1688 leverages its extensive supplier and partnership networks to enhance the cost performance ratio for overseas merchants, offering benefits such as:

Average product prices on 1688 being 15% lower than other B2B marketplaces.

Direct contracts with manufacturers, resulting in reduced costs.

Partnerships with logistic companies to support international shipping.

Jim Vrondas, Country Manager at WorldFirst Australia, said “Global sourcing allows  Australian companies to increase the amount of prospective suppliers available to them  which in turn provides a greater sourcing pool for quality control, rerouting opportunities to  circumvent short term supply chain delays and compare costs across locations to ensure  lowest cost, highest quality product.” 

WorldFirst is the first official cross-border payment partner with 1688. Transaction volume of  the solution grew at an annual average rate of over 70% from 2019 and 2023 on the back of  robust international demand.  

In addition to global sourcing, Jim also highlighted the opportunity for Australian businesses  to benefit from selling their goods in foreign e-commerce sites through WorldFirst digital e commerce solutions: “1688 is good for online sellers, drop shippers, wholesalers, retailers  and used by sourcing agents from around the globe. By reducing the cost of sourcing and  shipping direct from the Chinese factory to an overseas warehouse, businesses can improve  operating efficiency, increase profit margins and deliver faster fulfilment times to their  consumers.”

In addition to digital e-commerce solutions, WorldFirst also provides a way to for SMEs to  open a multi-currency World Account within minutes to open more than 10 local currency  accounts, empowering them to seamlessly receive cross-border payments and manage  funds across more than 100 global marketplaces through a single online portal. The World  Account is a single sign on user-friendly portal for sellers to manage their growing operations  across borders and marketplaces.  

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