Ali­pay, WeChat Pay vie for cus­tomers

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - FRONT PAGE - By HE WEI in Shang­hai hewei@chi­nadaily.com.cn

Chi­nese mo­bile pay­ment lead­ers Ali­pay and WeChat Pay are en­gaged in a week­long bat­tle from Aug 1 to 8 to en­cour­age con­sumers to use their e-wal­let so­lu­tions amid an es­ca­lat­ing duel for dig­i­tal pay­ment supremacy.

By dish­ing out a slew of in­cen­tives, such as cash re­bates, free bus rides and even a chance to win gold, the com­pa­nies are tak­ing the cash­less pay­ment fever to new heights. The bat­tle comes af­ter UnionPay and Ap­ple both rolled out sim­i­lar pro­grams in June and July to cul­ti­vate cus­tomer loy­alty.

Dur­ing the pro­mo­tional pe­riod, con­sumers who use Ali­pay, the world’s top mo­bile pay­ment tool, for their trans­ac­tions stand to earn up to 4,888 yuan ($727) in cash re­bates if they make pur­chases at any of the 10 mil­lion-plus brick-and-mor­tar stores across the coun­try ac­cept­ing the ser­vice.

Us­ing the e-pay­ment ser­vice au­to­mat­i­cally gives the con­sumer a chance to win a piece of the jackpot — an 18.888 kilo­gram slab of gold.

Ten­cent’s WeChat Pay (Wal­let), which comes in as a close sec­ond in China’s red-hot mo­bile pay­ment arena, also un­veiled a raft of pro­mo­tions dur­ing the same pe­riod.

Apart from a sim­i­lar cash re­bate scheme, WeChat users can ac­cu­mu­late sav­ings and spend them on Aug 8. Con­sumers also gain ad­di­tional cash re­wards by shar­ing pro­mo­tions with their WeChat con­tacts.

Ali­pay and WeChat Pay con­trolled more than 92 per­cent of China’s 18.8 tril­lion yuan mo­bile pay­ment mar­ket in the first quar­ter of 2017, ac­cord­ing to Bei­jing-based re­search firm Analysys.

Ac­cord­ing to re­search group eMar­keter, China is the world’s largest prox­im­ity mo­bile pay­ment mar­ket — mak­ing pay­ments by tap­ping, swip­ing or check­ing in with a mo­bile phone — and nearly half of smart­phone users in the coun­try are ex­pected to use such pay­ment meth­ods by 2020.

“This wide­spread adop­tion is fu­eled by grow­ing smart­phone us­age and the ex­pan­sion of e-com­merce to ru­ral ar­eas,” said eMar­keter an­a­lyst Shelleen Shum.

A study by con­sul­tancy Ip­sos and Ten­cent found that mo­bile pay­ments have be­come an in­trin­sic part of life for many Chi­nese peo­ple to­day, with 14 per­cent of them car­ry­ing no cash and 26 per­cent car­ry­ing less than 100 yuan, when they head out.

Eric Jing, chief ex­ec­u­tive of Ant Fi­nan­cial, the par­ent com­pany of Ali­pay, said the main ob­jec­tive of mo­bile pay­ments is “by no means to elim­i­nate cash but to give equal ac­cess to a wide ar­ray of mer­chan­dise and ser­vices that were pre­vi­ously unattain­able for an un­der­banked pop­u­la­tion.”

Chen Xue­jun, a qi­pao seller in Shang­hai, said more than half of his trans­ac­tions are made through Ali­pay, and this has im­proved business ef­fi­ciency while greatly re­duc­ing the risk of him be­ing paid with coun­ter­feit notes.

FENG YONGBIN / CHINA DAILY

Ali­pay and WeChat Pay lead China’s move to a cash­less so­ci­ety, so cus­tomers can scan for pur­chases.

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