How much it actually costs Tencent to make a WeChat payment

Written by Denis Suslov || March 22 2016

Tencent was reporting its quarterly earnings on March 17th and for the first time the company disclosed its WeChat Wallet fees that the company pays to partner banks. Tencent CEO Pony Ma said the fees are 0.1% of each transaction and totalled more than RMB 300 million in January.


A simple calculation shows that WeChat processed RMB 300 billion in just one month, and therefore should process at least USD 556 billion in 2016. To put that in perspective, Alipay's mobile payments value was USD 519 billion in 2013, the last the year the company reported its processing numbers. WeChat certainly has a while to go to catch up with Alipay.

Why did Tencent release the fee numbers now? It is clearly related their earlier decision to start charging users for money withdrawal. WeChat implemented the fee of 0.1% on March 1st, 2016 saying the measure was introduced to cover the rising costs charged to the company by partner banks. As we can see now, the fee to be charged to users will just cover the actual payment cost. 

Right after Tencent said they would start charging, Ant Financial responded by saying that it would not charge for funds withdrawal, so it seems like Alipay chose to stay the course with free payments service and will continue to subsidize the fees to protect and potentially expand its market share. We will talk more about payments business models in detail in the upcoming Digital Payments report.