ByteDance plotting foray into fintech after Tik Tok owner files several new trademarks
- Speculation about a possible foray by ByteDance into financial services first emerged as early as 2017
- Company has already become a strong challenger to Tencent in China’s online media and entertainment arena
Beijing ByteDance Technology, owner of the popular karaoke video app TikTok, has filed several new trademarks, signalling a potential expansion into financial technology.
The world’s most valuable start-up, which operates a number of app-based content products including the hugely successful news aggregator Jinri Toutiao, filed for three financial business-related trademarks on December 6. The move was first picked up by mainland media earlier this week.
A search on the official site of the trademark office of China’s national intellectual property administration on Thursday shows that ByteDance has filed for a trademark called Zijiefu, which roughly translates as BytePay. The trademark is classified in the business category of insurance and financial services.
The other two trademarks filed appear to be small loan products according to their Chinese names. One is called Qingli Installment and the other Wuxian Installment, both falling into the same trademark category as BytePay. The filings are still pending approval, according to the site, which does not provide further information.
A Beijing-based ByteDance spokeswoman declined to comment on the matter.
Speculation about a possible foray by ByteDance into financial services first emerged as early as 2017. Back then the company was reported to be building up an in-house finance team with the aim of securing licences to get into the payments business, although ByteDance denied these claims.
Founded by former engineer Zhang Yiming in 2012, ByteDance has already become a strong challenger to Tencent Holdings in China’s online media and entertainment world. There is no official data about the total number of users for ByteDance, but TikTok and its Chinese version Douyin together amassed 500 million global monthly active users in June.
ByteDance is taking on Baidu in online advertising after Zhang’s company bagged at least 50 billion yuan (US$7.25 billion) in advertising income in 2018, according to estimates by Evergrande Research, thanks to the size of its user base and the length of time people spend on its apps.
The company has also been forming new ventures outside its traditional business, recently launching beta versions of several new apps including budget shopping site Zhidian.
ByteDance is reported to have secured US$3 billion in a new funding round at a valuation of US$75 billion, overtaking US ride hailing giant Uber Technologies as the world’s most valuable start-up, according to data from CB Insights.