99Bill, a Chinese payments company, was just acquired by Baidu for RMB 2 billion. While there was no official confirmation from Baidu yet, the rumors started appearing on November 18. As the deal comes through, it will be yet another instance of a tech company moving into online finance. Alibaba through Alipay and Tencent through Tenpay already have payments licenses and operate successfully in the industry. Only Baidu was the last company of the three technology titans without a considerable traction in online finance. Its Baidu Wallet is still in promotion phase and is yet to gain a user base comparable to that of Alipay or Tenpay wallets.
The recent announcement that there are now 190 million Alipay wallet users has confirmed Alipay as a real heavyweight and innovator within the mobile payments industry. What are the barriers for future growth?
Alibaba and Apple were in the same sentence quite a bit this week as rumours floated about a potential Alipay / Apple Pay tie-up. Beyond a potentially very unique name for a new payment service, what would a potential partnership bring to the table for the companies and consumers?
Beating Apple by nearing a week, on September 2nd, 2014, Alipay and Huawei announced the launch of their fingerprint payment service. The technology will be first shipped on Huawei’s Ascend Mate 7 phone, which was presented by the electronics giant on September 3rd.
QR code payment in China, suspended by PBOC on March 14th, 2014, have just been restarted by the Postal Savings Bank of China.
At the start of this month, leading global supplier of information and communications technology (ICT) Huawei had joined the board of Europe’s 5G Infrastructure Association.
According to PBoC 2013 Annual Report, the payments industry in China is growing fast, 17% in 2013 alone and 25% on average in the last five years.
After setting up its strategy as “All in Mobile E-Commerce” at the beginning of this year, Alibaba has been gradually building up its Online2Offline business - now focusing on healthcare.
The latest payment report released by PBOC shows that by the end of 2014Q1, the cumulative number of bank cards issued reached 4.39 billion. Debit cards are still the most widely used card type, accounting for approximately at 3.97 billion.
According to the Chinese Financial Certification Association, in the major 35 cities of China only 3% of electronic (Internet and mobile) banking clients use Near Field Communication technology as a payment method. With all the convenience of the NFC technology it seems strange that the trend didn’t pick up yet.
The latest financials from Tencent Group shows that overall growth stayed strong in the first quarter of 2014 as revenue hit RMB 18.4 billion, 78% of which were value-added services. E-commerce however suffered as revenues declined 24% as compared to Q4 2013. Tencent indicated that the lagging performance was a seasonal factor; in addition Tencent has recently re-focused its e-commerce strategy.
As known, Tencent setup a partnership with Jingdong this year, acquiring 15% of the online retailer which also holds QQ wanggou and Paipai. The acquisiton is an indication that Tencent is serious about e-commerce, but they still seem to be searching for the right business model. Yet with Alibaba listing soon, Tencent will have to show rapid returns on their investment in order to keep a increasingly impatient set of investors happy. Tencent's e-commerce challenges must now be confronted to stay ahead of the game.
After the PBOC’s suspension of QR code payments and virtual credit cards, they have begun soliciting comment on draft guidelines on “Payment Institutions Network Payment Business Management Approach” (provisional).