March 01. 2016: IS ALIPAY LIKE PAYPAL?
The answer is both "Yes and "No."
Both Alipay and Paypal require buyer and seller (user) accounts and both require the internet to conduct transactions. Both allow peer to peer transactions and both charge fees for transactions.
A key difference is Paypal also charges for foreign (cross border) FX exchange fees whereas Alipay only charges a transaction fee. Another key difference is Paypal assists the wire of funds between users'-bank accounts, but Alipay qualifies and then moves funds between buyer-and-merchant-Alipay accounts.
Alipay also has many other functions including loans and touch pay at kiosks and shops in China and Hong Kong.Their adoption and user rate in China is also markedly different. Because it is a foreign system PayPal is "not well known" and has very small user rate in China. In fact less than 2% of all China online transactions are done using foreign-credit cards or payment systems, in 2014. That figure includes Amex, Mastercard, Visa and Paypal combined. Whereas it is estimated at January 2016 Alipay has 800 million accounts in mainland China.
Credit or no credit? Paypal will also allow credit-funded transactions whereas Alipay only allows transactions that have sufficient cash-funds in their Alipay account.