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Baidu launches Wallet mobile payment platform

2014-04-16 10:29 Global Times Web Editor: qindexing

Chinese search engine company Baidu Inc Tuesday introduced its online payment platform, dubbed "Baidu Wallet," to the mobile front, aiming to expand the company's presence in the domestic mobile payment arena.

The move follows the launch of similar products by Baidu's major rivals, including Tencent Holdings, which introduced payment services on its popular instant messaging app WeChat last August, and Alibaba, which released the mobile app of its payment arm Alipay in January 2013.

In this era of mobile Internet, the company has found that how to enhance users' loyalty and meet their needs for online payment have become the major concerns of its partners and developers, said Li Mingyuan, vice president of Baidu, in a press release e-mailed to the Global Times Tuesday.

"Baidu Wallet will help us further the construction of our mobile ecosystem," noted Li.

However, analysts said that Baidu will hardly affect the predominant position of Alibaba in the mobile payment sector, unless its payment service could feature something -innovative.

According to the press release, Baidu Wallet enables users to transfer money, pay bills and check the performance of Baidu's wealth management products via its PC website or mobile app. The app is set to come online in late April.

Baidu Wallet now appears to be similar to other existing online payment platforms, including the veteran Alipay and the rising star Tenpay, meaning it will not have much of an impact on the heated market, said Li Chao, a third-party online payment analyst with Beijing-based market research firm iResearch.

A report posted by Analysys International in late February said the mobile payment market in China has already become highly concentrated.

Alipay continued leading the domestic mobile payment market in 2013 by transaction volumes, holding a 69.6 percent market share, while Tenpay, run by Tencent, a major Chinese Internet company, ranked third with 3.3 percent, according to data from Analysys International. Beijing-based Lakala Payment Co came in at second place with 17.8 percent.

Tenpay was applied to WeChat in August 2013, which analysts said helped enlarge its user base a lot.

Li from iResearch told the Global Times Tuesday that Internet companies in China have been devoting full efforts to developing their online payment platforms, mainly because they all want to tap into the nation's profitable Internet financing market.

"Having sufficient users of its mobile payment service is the precondition for an Internet company to popularize its online wealth management products," he noted.

Tencent and Alibaba have long been competing with each other in grabbing users for their own mobile payment service.

For instance, Alipay partnered with Alibaba-backed taxi-hailing app Kuaidi last May, allowing users to pay their cab e-hailing bills.

And in early January, Tenpay's payment service on WeChat started to offer a similar service in cooperation with Tencent-run Didi Dache.

China's mobile payment market saw a skyrocketing surge of 800.3 percent year-on-year in transaction volumes last year to 1.3 trillion yuan ($208.9 billion), partially driven by Internet companies' proactive promotion, said Analysys International in the report.

Baidu has a large user base thanks to its mostly preferred search engine and map service in China, but the company needs a lot of effort and time to persuade them to pay or buy things via Baidu Wallet, Zhang Yi, CEO of Shenzhen-based iiMedia Research, told the Global Times Tuesday.

"If Baidu can launch some distinctive and feasible products based on its payment platform, it may have a big chance to rapidly stand out from the competition," Zhang said.

NASDAQ-listed Baidu reported revenue of 9.52 billion yuan during the fourth quarter of last year, up 50.3 percent year-on-year.

Incomes from Baidu's services on the mobile front contributed 20 percent of the company's revenue.

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