Tencent enables users to pay utility bills through WeChat
Users of Tencent’s WeChat platform can now use it to pay their utility bills as the mainland web giant seeks to expand in the mobile payment market.
The service is being offered in cooperation with Shanghai Fufeitong Information Technology, a company that enables residents to pay utility bills online. A Tencent spokeswoman said users of WeChat, known as Weixin on the mainland, who followed Fufeitong’s official account could check and pay their utility bills without leaving the app.
Fufeitong said a trial version launched earlier this month attracted more than 11,000 subscribers and processed more than 1,000 payments. The service, which handles payments worth around 10 billion yuan a year according to the Shanghai Daily, halted a five-year deal with Alibaba’s Alipay online payment platform in July.
Alipay, which controls almost half of the mainland’s online transaction market, primarily by way of e-commerce platforms Taobao and Tmall, has faced increasing competition from Tencent in the mobile sphere in recent months.
“Tenpay, Tencent’s older online payment system … was never able to threaten Alipay’s dominance until the rise of WeChat created a new battlefield,” industry observer Lanie Nie wrote earlier this month.
In March, WeChat greatly expanded in-app purchases, adding support for brands to allow customers to purchase items or services inside the app. Brands which offer payments in this manner include Hong Kong-based Pacific Coffee.
Asked about expansion plans, Tencent said the platform was open to companies and organisations of various kinds to provide services based on the official account infrastructure.
“Payment is an important feature on Weixin and we will continue to provide more convenient options for users,” the spokeswoman said.