All Nippon Airways (ANA), Japan’s largest airline, is planning to enter the world to digital payments in order to diversify its portfolio.

This is part of ANA’s broader strategy to embrace digital options by building on data the company has collected from the 31 million users of its airline miles.

It will also help offset the volatility in the airline industry.

“We are aiming for ANA’s version of Alibaba’s Alipay,” Shinya Katanozaka, ANA’s chief executive.

He added: “We need to actively build new businesses to prepare for the changes in the new (digital) era. The non-core business can also provide a back-up when our mainstay airline business, which tends to be volatile, is facing a downturn.”

According to GlobalData, Japan’s e-commerce market grew from JPY11.2trn ($99.1bn) in 2013 to JPY16.4trn in 2017. It is also expected to reach JPY21.6trn by 2021.

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For comparison, mobile payments alone in China hit a record $12.7trn in 2017.