China’s Alipay: Stolen Apple IDs behind thefts of users’ money

Apple Pay, while not as popular as WeChat Pay and Alipay, has become increasingly popular in China’s large eastern cities. (Reuters)
Updated 11 October 2018
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China’s Alipay: Stolen Apple IDs behind thefts of users’ money

  • ‘Alipay has contacted Apple many times...and the issue has not been resolved’
  • Apple Pay, while not as popular as WeChat Pay and Alipay, has also become increasingly popular in China’s large eastern cities

BEIJING, Oct 11 : Ant Financial’s Alipay, the operator of one of China’s top two mobile payment apps, said hackers have taken an unknown amount of money from accounts using stolen Apple Inc. IDs and the issue remains unresolved despite reaching out to the US giant.
Alipay said in a post on its Toutiao social media account on Wednesday that users who have linked their accounts using Apple IDs should lower transaction limits.
“Alipay has contacted Apple many times...and the issue has not been resolved,” the post said.
The breach has affected users of both Alipay and Tencent Holdings Ltd’s WeChat and some users lost up to 2,000 yuan ($288), state media outlet Xinhua said on Thursday.
A Shanghai-based spokeswoman for Apple declined to comment. Representatives for Tencent did not respond to emails or phone calls seeking comment.
Ant Financial is the payment affiliate of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd.
It is not clear how many users were affected by the breach, and Alipay’s statement urged affected users to contact Apple.
The potential breach underscores the security challenges facing China’s huge mobile payments market, where WeChat and Alipay services have become ubiquitous in daily life.
It also highlights the pitfalls facing tech firms in China, where smartphone scams and personal data breaches are more common than other markets.
Apple was chastised by Chinese state media in July for the amount of spam being sent on iMessage, with media saying with the company’s strict stance on privacy was hindering its ability to crack down on illegal behavior.
The company has since said it is contact with telecom companies on how to reduce the amount of spam received through iMessage.
Apple users in China are required to link their IDs to their phone numbers, which are in turn linked to their national identification numbers. Apple Pay, while not as popular as WeChat Pay and Alipay, has also become increasingly popular in China’s large eastern cities.
For WeChat Pay and Alipay, which each have around half a billion users, breaches are rare though users are frequently warned not to send money to unidentified people using the platforms. ($1 = 6.9305 Chinese yuan) (Reporting by Cate Cadell; Editing by Edwina Gibbs)


Asia’s refining profits slump as Mideast exports surge

Updated 23 February 2019
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Asia’s refining profits slump as Mideast exports surge

  • Since 2006, the Asia-Pacific has been the world’s biggest oil-consuming region, led by industrial users South Korea and Japan along with rising powerhouses China and India
  • However, overbuilding of refineries and sluggish demand growth have caused a jump in fuel exports from these demand hubs

SINGAPORE: Asia’s biggest oil consumers are flooding the region with fuel as refining output is exceeding consumption amid a slowdown in demand growth, pressuring industry profits.
Since 2006, the Asia-Pacific has been the world’s biggest oil-consuming region, led by industrial users South Korea and Japan along with rising powerhouses China and India.
Yet overbuilding of refineries and sluggish demand growth have caused a jump in fuel exports from these demand hubs.
Compounding the supply overhang, fuel exports from the Middle East, which BP data shows added more than 1 million barrels per day (bpd) of refining capacity from 2013 to 2017, have doubled since 2014 to around 55 million tons, according to Refinitiv.
Car sales in China, the world’s second-biggest oil user, fell for the first time on record last year, and early 2019 sales also remain weak, suggesting a slowdown in gasoline demand.
For diesel, China National Petroleum Corp. in January said that it expected demand to fall by 1.1 percent in 2019. That would be China’s first annual demand decline for a major fuel since its industrial ascent started in 1990.
The surge in fuel exports combined with a 25 percent jump in crude oil prices so far this year has collapsed Singapore refinery margins, the Asian benchmark, from more than $11 per barrel in mid-2017 to just over $2.
Combine the slumping margins with labor costs and taxes and many Asian refineries now struggle to make money.
The squeezed margins have pummelled the stocks of most major Asian petroleum companies, such as Japan’s refiners JXTG Holdings Inc. or Idemitsu Kosan, South Korea’s top oil processor SK Innovation, Asia’s top oil refiner China Petroleum & Chemical Corp. and Indian Oil Corp., with some companies dropping by about 40 percent over the past year. Jeff Brown, president of energy consultancy FGE, said the surge in exports and resulting oversupply were a “big problem” for the industry.
“The pressure on refinery margins is a case of death by a thousand cuts ... Refinery upgrades throughout the region are bumping up against softening demand growth,” he said.
The profit slump follows a surge in fuel exports from China, India, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan. Refinitiv shipping data shows fuel exports from those countries have risen threefold since 2014, to a record of around 15 million tons in January.
The biggest jump in exports has come from China, where refiners are selling off record amounts of excess fuel into Asia.
“There is a risk for Asian market turmoil if (China’s fuel) export capacity remains at the current level or grows further,” said Noriaki Sakai, chief executive officer at Idemitsu Kosan during a news conference last week.
But Japanese and South Korean fuel exports have also risen as demand at home falls amid mature industry and a shrinking population. Japan’s 2019 oil demand will drop by 0.1 percent from 2018, while South Korea’s will remain flat, according to forecasts from Energy Aspects.
In Japan, oil imports have been falling steadily for years, yet its refiners produce more fuel than its industry can absorb. The situation is similar in South Korea, the world’s fifth-biggest refiner by capacity, according to data from BP.
Cho Sang-bum, an official at the Korea Petroleum Association, which represents South Korean refiners, said the surging exports had “triggered a gasoline glut.”
That glut caused negative gasoline margins in January.