The world’s biggest messaging app, WeChat, is getting support for mobile payments in China thanks to its parent company, Tencent (HKG:0700). The expanded capability of the social app, which recently amassed more than 200 million users, has just been outlined at a press conference, and will come in tandem with the company’s Tenpay online payment platform.
It’ll allow WeChat users – or, “Weixin” as the app is called in Chinese – to generate a QR code that relates to a payment among friends, which can then be scanned with the QR code reader that’s inside the mutli-platform messaging app. Or payment detail links can also be shared via WeChat if that’s more convenient.
On a larger scale, this could be adopted by major companies that already use WeChat for social marketing, including retailers like Starbucks and Dairy Queen, to allow mobile payments to happen via the WeChat app. We suspect that the Tenpay app will need to be installed too, and that most of the action will actually happen in that. Still, it’s an interesting new twist on cash-less payments, with a nice social twist, in China.
The GM of Tencent’s Tenpay, Lai Zhiming, says the social payments aspect is timed to coincide with the seventh anniversary of Tenpay.com, which can be used for payments on an array of Chinese websites. Its main rival is Alibaba’s Alipay, and is also up against the banks’ UnionPay alliance. Tenpay has 190 million users, and is used by 400,000 merchants; the company claims that RMB 450 billion ($71.2 billion) was transacted on its platform in 2011.