Tencent and Alibaba have been direct competitors since going into mobile commerce and local life services. The two have transformed their flagship mobile apps, WeChat as a messaging service and Alipay Wallet a mobile payment tool, with innovative functions and features transforming both apps in each major update.

While many in China doubt that these mobile apps can replace standalone e-commerce sites like Taobao or JD.com, it is widely believed that “super apps” like WeChat or Alipay Wallet could eventually take the much-hyped online-to-offline business model to a new level. Apart from getting all types of offline shops on their platforms to post listings or interact with customers, Tencent and Alibaba have begun competing in traditional industries such as healthcare.

The two companies have a common goal of automating and streamlining the workflow of those industries with mobile technology. This is however much harder than developing and promoting end-user-facing mobile apps. For instance, the majority of hospitals in China are state-owned, and consequently bureaucratic and reluctant to make changes. Even commercial businesses such as hotels and restaurants are only marginally more willing to replace old software for business operations or customer relations with new mobile solutions.

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Tracey Xiang

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