WeChat Pay CEO hopes payments business can be ‘everywhere’

QR codes for digital payment services WeChat by Tencent and Alipay by Ant Group, an affiliate of Alibaba Group, are displayed at a parking lot on December 27, 2020, in Yichang, Hubei province of China.

Wang Jianfeng | Visual China Corporation | beautiful pictures

GUANGZHOU, China – Barriers between China’s tech rivals such as Alibaba and Tencent is going downhill as Chinese companies rush to comply with Beijing’s crackdown on alleged monopolistic practices.

Mobile payments have grown over the past decade to become the dominant form of consumer payment in mainland China, surpassing cash and credit cards. Tencent’s WeChat Pay and Alipay – operated by Ant Group, a subsidiary of Alibaba – are the most popular services, covering most of the mainland’s 1.4 billion population.

But stiff competition between the companies meant that for years, consumers who made purchases on Alibaba’s e-commerce app Taobao could only pay with Alipay. That’s about to change, according to a Tencent executive.

“As for payment, we also hope that in the near future, everywhere, users can freely choose. It is also fair,” said Lei Maofeng, deputy general manager of WeChat Pay. access to more platforms in China.

He is speaking in Mandarin at CNBC’s annual conference on East Technology West in Nansha District, Guangzhou, China.

Lei did not name specific apps or share specific timeframes and did not directly respond to a question whether WeChat Pay is in discussions with Alibaba.

However, Lei pointed out that WeChat announced Second, users can now share links from external sites, including Taobao.

Previously, users of WeChat – the social messaging app popular in mainland China – could not directly share a link to a product on Taobao, operated by Alibaba. Instead, users can just copy and paste the countless keyboard symbols from the Taobao product page into WeChat. Copying and pasting the same combination of icons into Taobao will take the user to the product page.

A test by CNBC on Thursday showed that the sharing function on Taobao now allows users to send product page links to WeChat – along with some promotional text.

WeChat is looking for other ways to keep users engaged with its app beyond mobile payments and messaging. These functions include automatically deducting shipping fees when a courier has obtained a package for shipping, Lei told CNBC, eliminating the need for users to manually pay.

WeChat Pay appears on some Alibaba apps

Several Alibaba apps, including food delivery app and video platform Youku, have start enabling WeChat Pay. Alipay remains the only payment option on Taobao and Tmall as of Thursday morning local time.

By The e-commerce app supported WeChat Pay, the domestic version of Apple Pay, and some Chinese credit cards as of Thursday morning. Tencent has a nearly 17% stake in JD, according to S&P Capital IQ.

In the past, small business owners in China have complained that an e-commerce site or food delivery app from one company won’t allow them to work on another platform simultaneously. Even if they try to do so, businesses can face higher fees.

Since late last year, the Chinese government has sought to limit the alleged monopolistic activities of internet technology companies, especially by hitting a record $2.8 billion fine against Alibaba for such behavior.

– by CNBC Arjun Kharpal contributed to this report.

Correction: The subject line has been changed to accurately reflect that the moderator who spoke to CNBC came from WeChat Pay. An earlier version misrepresented his title. Lei also said he hopes his payments business can be available on more platforms in the future. WeChat Pay CEO hopes payments business can be ‘everywhere’

Sarah Ridley

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