WeChat announced last night to open WeChat Payment, the mobile payment solution developed by Tencent’s Tenpay, to all businesses on its platform.

A business should first apply for a WeChat Service Account, where sophisticated features can be added with APIs and then WeChat Payment. A few selected Service Accounts have been testing WeChat Payment for taking payments directly within WeChat.

It takes five working days to process applications, WeChat said, and a security deposit is required. For those who now only have Subscription Accounts which only allow for pushing content to subscribers, they can apply to upgrade to Service Accounts and it takes one working day.

The People’s Insurance Company of China will cover losses caused by WeChat Payment.

It is expected WeChat Payment will rise fast to become a threat to Alibaba in mobile payments this year. Tenpay, the online payment service of Tencent, was launched as early as in 2005 when Tencent decided to build e-commerce marketplace like Alibaba’s Taobao. As transactions on Tencent’s were way fewer than Taobao and some users preferred to pay with banks’ online payment services, Tenpay hasn’t been widely adopted. Yixun, the online retailer Tencent bought an 80% stake in, added Alipay for the sake of sales.

Now WeChat has created this ecosystem for businesses to take advantage of its huge user base and sell items directly. Although Alipay’s mobile app, Alipay Wallet, has added a channel for businesses to do CRM or sell goods too, WeChat now has become a place for users to browse items to their interest, share to their friends or potentially buy.

WeChat is also working with offline businesses like vending machines to promote WeChat Payment through QRcodes. It is reported that Tencent’s division for local services will launch a POS solution on top of WeChat Payment soon. The offline world is where Alipay has been making efforts on recently.

Tracey Xiang

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at traceyxiang@gmail.com

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