WeChat cinema ticket sales app WePiao secures US$105 million in funding
A company that provides cinema ticket sales for WeChat, the most popular mobile messaging app in China, has closed a US$105 million series B funding round.
Investors in WePiao include WeChat parent Tencent and real estate firm Wanda Group, as well as a number of other companies.
Lin Ning, chief executive of Wepiao, told QQ News that the funding would allow the app to "better connect film audiences and the entertainment industry, and ... tap new value opportunities in the market."
WePiao, developed by Beijing Weiying Technology, enables users of Tencent messaging apps WeChat and QQ to buy movie, sports and other event tickets for local venues.
Payments are handled through Tencent's mobile payment system, allowing users to store their bank information on their phones and simply tap on 'buy tickets' when they want to attend a showing. WePiao users can also buy popcorn and snacks and select seats through the app, which covers more than 3,500 theatres in 500 cities across mainland China.
According to research firm Entgroup, the number of people in China buying movie tickets online grew by 42.9 per cent in 2014, while the number of bookings done via smartphone jumped 109 per cent.
Tencent's injection of funding into WePiao comes after rival Alibaba acquired Hong Kong-listed cinema-ticketing company Guangdong Yueke Software Engineering for US$134 million last week. The firm currently supplies more than 1,000 theatres across China with electronic ticketing systems, as well as facilitating third-party electronic payments using systems such as Alipay.
Alibaba Pictures, the e-commerce giant's entertainment wing, said the purchase of Guangdong Yueke would enable it to connect theatres across China with the hundreds of millions of users on its parent company's platforms.