It is well-known that Alibaba’s finance arm have been working on an online credit rating system, based on users’ purchasing history and other online behavior. Tencent, which is now competing with Alibaba in numerous sectors, last week announced they would release a similar system at the company’s annual partner conference.

While Alibaba makes small loans to online retailers on its e-commerce marketplaces, Tencent doesn’t operate such a business. The credit reports generated through Alibaba’s Sesame system are expected to be largely used for Alibaba’s finance arm to make credit decisions, while Tencent’s will be sold to financial institutions.

Tencent claims the user data generated across its products are far more in-depth than any others. But it is easy to see the user data collected by Tencent cannot be as useful to financial institutions as Alibaba’s. For instance, I use Tencent’s products only for chatting with friends on QQ and capturing screenshots with a tool developed by the company. I don’t see a credit report based on that will be accurate.

Recently, WeChat’s payment service and money transaction functions have become increasingly popular. With more data from WeChat, Tencent’s credit rating system may improve as time goes by.

Tracey Xiang is Beijing, China-based tech writer. Reach her at

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