Alipay May Add Social Media Features to Rival WeChat

Chinese e-commerce giant Alibaba Group is likely to make another attempt to achieve social media expansion by introducing a new messaging feature in its Alipay service, Shanghai’s China Business News reports.

A graphic that is claimed to be the screen cap of Alipay’s unreleased 8.5 version mobile phone app began circulating online on Jan. 20, and a possible new feature, called “My Friend,” led to speculation about the incorporation of more social media aspects to the payment service, the newspaper said.

Sources told the newspaper that the planned new version of the Alipay app will allow users to send texts, voice messages, and photos to other users.

Alipay confirmed the upcoming release of the 8.5 version of its app but declined to comment on further details.

An industry insider revealed that since the launch of Yu’ebao, which allows Alipay users to invest money in their accounts in a currency fund, the service has been striving to innovate and expand outside the payment processing business.

The industry insider said that Alipay’s recent launch of the feature that allows users to give their friends and family access to their accounts and make payments within a set amount of money signifies an effort to tap into users’ social lives.

Alipay’s speculated move into the social media realm also reflects China’s top internet companies’ efforts to conquer their rivals’ stronghold, the newspaper said.

Alipay, which recently reached its 10th year in the business, dominates the payment service market in China due to the control its parent company, Alibaba, has over the e-commerce market, while one of its main rivals, Tencent, has been successfully ruling the social media aspect with its popular WeChat mobile app.

While Alipay aims to add social media features to its service, Tencent has been promoting WeChat’s payment feature and developing the app as a portal that could incorporate the functions of different apps, the newspaper said.

Tencent just released the 6.1 version of WeChat, which provides better incorporation with other Tencent-related apps, including those of the restaurant review site Dianping and online retailer Jingdong Mall.

The company also released a JavaScript SDK for developers to create apps based on WeChat.

The newspaper said that a direct confrontation between Alipay and WeChat is likely to occur in the near future.

Source:Want China Times

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