今年春节假期从除夕到初五这六天，微信红包收发总量为460亿个； 而支付宝， 有着 1000 万家淘宝商户作为坚强后盾。 C hinas $5.5tn mobile payments sector more than 50 times bigger than that of the US......今年春节假期从除夕到初五这六天，微信红包收发总量为460亿个；
China’s $5.5tn mobile payments sector — more than 50 times bigger than that of the US — is being shaken up by one-time underdog Tencent, which is snatching market share from rival Alibaba.
Alipay, which Alibaba launched in 2004 as a PayPal-type service to facilitate payments on its Taobao ecommerce platform, has long dominated China’s mobile payments. But its share of the market had fallen to nearly half by the end of last year while Tencent’s rose to more than a third.
Alibaba had a 54 per cent market share in the fourth quarter of 2016 compared with 71 per cent in the third quarter of 2015, according to the latest data from consultancy Analysys. Tencent’s share rose to 37 per cent against 16 per cent in the comparable periods. ApplePay, which launched in China early last year, did not feature in the top 10.
Chinaleads the world in mobile payments, buoyed by a boom in online shopping and the relative dearth of alternatives such as credit cards. iResearch said China’s mobile payments hit $5.5tn last year, 50 times the size of the US’s $112bn market, based on Forrester Research figures.
Tencent, best known for its gaming and social media platform WeChat with 890m users, entered the arena a decade after Alibaba and for a year the two staged an expensive battle to attract customers.
Tencent’s Weixin Pay burst on to the scene with digital hongbao, the red envelopes of money handed over as gifts during lunar new year. The ability to send hongbao online via WeChat accounts revolutionised a centuries-old tradition: this year 64bn hongbao were exchanged over the six-day holiday period.
“If we don’t consider red envelopes and [Alibaba] don’t count Taobao transactions, we don’t know which one is bigger,” Zhang Ying, Tencent vice-president, told a conference in Hong Kong last month.
The battle for share in payments is less to do with profits — charges barely cover costs, according to one industry player — but in the value of the data gathered from spending habits and financial information.
Industry consultants attribute Tencent’s rise to the pervasive use of WeChat and merchants’ desire to avoid relying on one provider.
“The dominance of the Taobao and T-Mall ecommerce platforms initially helped make Alipay the default digital wallet in China,” said Jeff Galvin, partner at McKinsey in Hong Kong.
“But now, as Chinese spend more and more time in the WeChat ecosystem — and they keep funds in its wallet for peer-to-peer payments, in-app purchases, and other things — [Weixin Pay] has really emerged as a peer competitor to Alipay.”
Tencent has signed up physical stores this year, including Starbucks. Almost all of the US group’s 2,600 China cafés accept Weixin Pay — the one on Alibaba’s campus in Hangzhou being a notable exception.
TenPay is the platform serving Weixin Pay; WeChat Pay, the overseas version; and QQ Wallet, its digital wallet.
“TenPay has a clear path,” said Mr Zhang. “In 2014 we focused on hongbao. Last year we tried to develop the offline merchants. This year my objective is to cover more than 10m small merchants or stores in China.”
Alibaba has fought back, building its own physical network — including overseas, where 110,000 shops accept Alipay. It says it has signed up more than 2m physical shops in China with 10m merchants on Taobao using Alipay.
Ant Financial, the Alibaba affiliate that runs Alipay, also points to its broader financial services offerings, such as money market fund Yu’e Bao, which now has Rmb1.14tn ($165.6bn) under management, up from Rmb808bn in the fourth quarter of 2016.