The U.S. based-online learning platform Coursera has announced that the users can now use Alipay to earn and purchase Verified Certificates according to the company website. The online education provider also claims that it now has a million registered users in China, its largest market outside of the U.S. 

Coursera’s entry into China has been facilitated by a slew of partnerships, helping it to localize content and extend their platform capabilities. The addition of Alipay, one of the country’s largest e-commerce tools, is the next step into a market where education apps are currently thriving.

In July 2013 two top Shanghai-based universities Fudan University and Shanghai Jiaotong University, reached partnership with Coursera to provide open online courses. Three months later, Coursera partnered with Chinese science community Goukr to translate English courses into Chinese. 150 Goukr volunteers took part in the translation project in partnership community translation website Yeeyan.  

Coursera partnered with NetEase in late 2013, a major Chinese distributor of open educational content. Since then, NetEase has been operating the Chinese version of Coursera, ‘Coursera Zone’, translating video courses into Chinese and supporting video hosting in China. To improve video streaming speed, Coursera has also begun storing copies of video files on locally hosted NetEase servers. 

Until now, Chinese users have had to find a way around the payment process, which requires a Visa or MasterCard-enabled account. In order to earn a Coursera certificate, users would have to borrow foreign cards or go through foreign payment agencies.

“We’ve learned that many of our Chinese learners wish to earn verified certificates, which has been challenging due to payment constraints,” said Coursera’s CEO Rick Levin. “Thanks to an integration with Alipay, all learners can now purchase certificates and share their accomplishments publicly, with employers and friends.”

Other open course sites in China are taking advantage of the hungry market, including Chinese versions of EdX, XuetangX, and Kaikeba. EdX is founded by MIT and Harvard University graduates, and partnered with Peking University and Tsinghua University, another two top Universities in China. 

BAT are also busy with their move to take a bite out of the market. Alibaba and Peking University jointly established a Chinese MOOC Platform to provide online courses for the global Chinese-speaking audience. Tencent also established a joint venture with New Oriental Education & Technology to develop educational apps and services. Baidu leverages its own Q&A site Baidu Zhidao and works with after-school tutoring platform Zuoyebang, as well as offering video courses on Baidu Weku. 

Image Credit: Shutterstock

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Eva Yoo

Eva Yoo is Shanghai-based tech writer. Reach her at

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