2012 was a year of expansion and spending for La Ka La, one of the first independent payments solutions in China: headcount increased five fold, from one thousand to five thousand. The company, breaking even one year earlier though, reportedly had a net loss of 100 million yuan in 2012 as a result of expansion and a sign that competition in the payments sector intensified.

Founded in 2005, La Ka La started out as a service, powered by China UnionPay, for consumers to pay utility bills or make payments thus to receive transaction commissions from either side of payments. POS terminals were introduced in 2006 to convenience stores to simplify its services. In 2010, La Ka La came up with a modified POS terminal to help small businesses to receive payments directly, in addition to existing payments services.

By the end of 2012, sixty thousand convenience stores, including well-known brands such as 7-11, in more than three hundred cities had been equipped with La Ka La’s terminals, and about three thousand employees in over one hundred cities are serving small businesses with its innovative POS terminals. The total transactions reached 600 billion yuan, daily peak transactions were one million, and 100 thousand POS terminals were in use.

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Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com