Alipay seems to have found a competitor in the form of WeChat. WeChat is a Chinese mobile texting app similar to Youni, and allows in addition to text and voice messaging the ability to place payments between users and is used for purchasing content provided by Tencent and participating merchants.
WeChat is China’s most popular texting application and is the 5th most downloaded app in the world with over 100 million users worldwide. WeChat introduced the payment feature in August 2013 and has gained immense popularity in China, with currently over 2 million registered users for the payment option with the number of registered users growing by about 8,000 users daily, according to Tencent. The payment option besides its use for social payments is used as the payment option for Tencent’s virtual-goods stores, as well as participating stores and websites.
Alipay accounted for over 78% of ecommerce transactions in China for the first three quarters of 2013, and that number is expected to keep growing, but with WeChat’s users growing steadily, Alibaba’s payment option may have stiff competition.
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A report by Guangzhou-based 21st Century Business Herald shows the growth rate will put WeChat at over 3 million users by May 2014. With more users choosing the text app’s payment feature, Tencent expects more businesses and Ecommerce platforms to start accepting payments with WeChat.
As of October 2013, WeChat has processed over 350,000 transactions that account to more than $16.4 million in sales. While those numbers are low in comparison to Alipay, the steady growth of their users combined to the rise in mobile payments in general shows that WeChat is expected to be a mainstream payment option in China in the near future, rivaling Alibaba’s payment method.
The payment option is currently only available to Chinese users. WeChat is available for Android, iOS, WP8, and BlackBerry enabled smartphones.