Baidu (NASDAQ:BIDU), the Chinese tech giant best known for its search engine, announced yesterday it will roll out a new mobile wallet app called Baidu Wallet (baidu qianbao), reports Jinghua.cn (via Techweb).
Like its main rivals from Alibaba (Alipay) and Tencent (Tenpay and WeChat Payments), Baidu Wallet serves as a Swiss army knife for the average Chinese consumer’s finance needs. By binding bank cards to the app, users can transfer money to friends’ accounts, top up their SIM cards, pay for virtual goods in video games, purchase movie tickets, and buy goods from any vendor that accepts Baifubao, Baidu’s third-party payment solution.
It might take some time for Baidu Wallet to gain traction among Chinese consumers. In the mobile payments space, Ailbaba’s Alipay remains the undisputed leader, having processed over US $150 billion in transaction volume in 2013 – five times more than PayPal. However, Alibaba’s dominance could be threatened by Tencent, which opened mobile payments to ordinary vendors through its WeChat messenger last month. Assuming merchants flock to WeChat Payments, Tencent is in an excellent position to lead the world in the realm of mobile payments via messaging. Since Baidu’s mobile strong points remain search and maps, it will likely try to make inroads in payments through those avenues.
Third-party mobile payments are skyrocketing in China. In 2013, mobile payments reached RMB 9.64 trillion (about $1.6 trillion) in transactions, according to government studies.
Editing by Steven Millward