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Great moments in digital disruption: speeding ticket payment apps and chatbot lawyers

ITEM: Alipay now has an option for paying off speeding tickets instantly.

According to TechInAsia (citing this report from Techweb.com.cn), Alibaba’s Alipay payment app has partnered with 163 cities in China to provide various services for vehicle drivers – and in almost half of those cities, one such service is instant payments for speeding tickets and other fines.

In the city of Ningbo alone, the app is reportedly raking in 3,000 traffic fines a day and – thanks to Alipay enabling fine payments within ten seconds – it's supposedly saving drivers (and government workers) ten years of time that would otherwise be spent standing in line waiting to pay in person.

While drivers may find it convenient to pay fines by app, many might naturally prefer an app that can get them out of paying the fine in the first place.

There’s no such app like that in China (and it would probably be illegal anyway), but there is one in London and New York.

DoNotPay is a free AI chatbot that drivers can consult to see if they can contest a parking ticket. The bot assesses their case and guides them through the appeal process, which (at least in London) is relatively simple and formulaic. According to The Guardian, the bot has helped overturn 160,000 parking fines worth $4 million in the UK and New York since its debut 21 months ago – a success rate of 64%.

Put another way, a chatbot lawyer is not only costing municipal governments revenue, but also making human lawyers redundant. How’s that for digital disruption?

Fun fact: DoNotPay was created by a 19-year-old Londoner studying in Stanford University. Joshua Browder says he intends to expand the AI bot to help people with other legal issues, from flight delay compensation to helping refugees navigate foreign legal systems.