The mainland market for payment services is heating up with the entry of a new platform developed by China Communication and China UnionPay. The Beijing public payment platform service (BPPPS) allows bank card holders to settle telephone, utility, tax and other bills via the internet and fixed-line and mobile phones. In addition, users will be able to pay bills at more than 10,000 point-of-sale or automated teller machines to be installed throughout Beijing by the end of next year. BPPPS will soon go head to head with SmartPay, a service that allows mobile-phone users to settle bills via short text message. With SmartPay, customers must register a bank account with the company. When a subscriber receives a bill via a text message, a simple confirm message will initiate a cash transfer. SmartPay plans to set up services in Beijing, Guangdong, Zhejiang, Shandong and Liaoning. The service is available in Shanghai, Jiangsu, Anhui, Hebei and Chongqing. Although cash is the popular choice for settling bills, China Communication chief executive Bao Yueqing was confident electronic payment would catch on in the capital city. 'It brings convenience to people in Beijing, as long queues for bill payment at banks are common,' he said. The company is eyeing a market that includes 4.5 million households, 3.5 million fixed-line users, 10 million mobile phone subscribers, 1.8 million internet users, 40 million China UnionPay cardholders and 2.6 million car owners. Beijing residents pay an estimated 2.4 billion utility and tax bills every year. China Communication was aiming to capture 5 to 10 per cent of the potential market, Mr Bao said. The company would consider expanding to other cities after establishing a foothold in the capital. 'Beijing is only the first point in the rollout of our business, which we expect to eventually become nationwide,' Mr Bao said. Initial agreements have been reached with the Daqing municipal government to set up a payment platform in the city. Shenzhou-based Suda - a Sino-foreign joint venture between China Communication and Hong Kong-listed HK 6 Holdings - will provide technical support, maintenance and management services for BPPPS.