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Tencent’s WeChat gets a mobile payments injection

Chinese internet giant Tencent is set to bring payment services to its mobile chat app WeChat.

Stuart Thomas: Senior Reporter
Stuart Thomas joined the Burn Media team in 2011 while finishing off an MA in South African Literature. Eager to prove his geek credentials, he allowed himself... More

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According to the Wall Street Journal Lai Zhiming, the head of TenPay — Tencen’t third-party payments platform — told media that the WhatsApp-style app will integrate with the payments service in the next couple of months.

At this point its unclear how the service will work, although users will reportedly be able buy items by scanning their codes at stores.

The new service could be potential boon to the service, which recently hit the 200-million user mark. In turn it could provide a means for establishing the platform as a real and viable money-spinner for Tencent, something the US-based Whatsapp has had more difficulty doing.

Rival chat services make use of ads and opt-in marketing to brands for their revenue. That model means taking some degree of power from the user, especially when it comes to what ads they end up seeing.

By allowing people to make purchases using WeChat, Tencent is putting some of that power back in its users hands and is (possibly) making their lives more convenient.

WeChat is an increasingly dominant player in the Chinese social space and, as The Next Web notes, China’s other social power Sina (which runs the country’s most popular microblogging site or weibo) identified it as a threat during its most recent earnings call.

Effectively monetising WeChat, would only serve to underline how much Sina has battled when it comes to making money off its mobile offerings. This despite the fact that people spend more time on its mobile services than anywhere else.

Tencent reports that WeChat is gaining serious traction outside China, particularly in South East Asia.