China's Internet Giants and Payments

Written by Fay Zhou || July 17 2013

On July 6th, People’s Bank of China (PBOC) issued 27 third party payment licenses to 27 companies bringing the total of 3rd party payment licenses up to 250. What catches our attention this time is the internet giants Baidu and Sina have both obtained licenses and will focus on online payment and mobile payment as their business scope and likely planning to leverage their huge existing user base.

The increasing value of China's 3rd Party Payment market

Source: PCAC, iResearch, 2013; includes non-financial institution mobile payment, online payment, prepaid card etc.

Since the end of 2012, the usage of Sina's microblog has decreased gradually. The platform mainly relies on advertising revenue, which was only US$18.8 in the first quarter of 2013. Although the user volume of Sina microblog is large, Sina continues to struggle as to how to find the right commercialization strategy. Thus, Sina microblog is attempting to provide a payment platform which enables mobile phone recharge, coupon, and bill payment by using the third party payment license.

Tecent Wechat, one of China’s most popular chatting application is also trying to use the online payment channel to enable customer purchases on mobile phone which is especially important with the Chinese mobile phone game industry which hit new heights in 2012.

After obtaining the third party payment license, Baidu will use their payment service to support its own business such as iQIYI, Baidu Cloud, and Baidu Library.

As can be seen, the stable yet slowing growth trend the third party payment industry indicates that the market has entered a more mature stage and the new business models will continue to help develop the market and facilitate domestic consumption. However, the third party payment companies also need to innovate and diversify their business models in what is already a crowded market in order to advance third party payment development.

So besides deepening and widening the payment industry, the industry itself can help the national goal of stimulating consumption and expanding internal demand which will likely mean that we will continue to see growth and development in this space as well as government support.