WeChat Pay just added another piece to its mutual fund platform to catch up with Alipay’s Yu’e Bao. The product, called Lingqiantong, meaning balances made smart, is still in beta and has only invited only a small pool of users to test it out. The new feature will enable users to transfer payments, issue red packets (红包 hongbao), pay back credit card debt, and earn interest on their balances in the digital wallet.
These features have already been up and running on Yu’e Bao for several years. Introduced by Alibaba’s third-party mobile solution Alipay in mid-2013, Yu’e Bao has surged to become the world’s largest money market fund in April with $165.6 billion under management. Many attribute its success to the daily interests it pays to depositors, who can withdraw balance from the digital wallet anytime. The model has posed a threat to China’s banking sector as people are taking money out of bank accounts and placing it in Alipay wallets.
WeChat Pay first started playing catch up to Yu’e Bao in 2014 by introducing Licaitong, which means wealth management made smooth. But unlike Yu’e Bao, Licaitong doesn’t reward interests from the balances—a gap soon to be filled by Lingqiantong.
As a latecomer to online finance, the growth of WeChat Pay is promising. Three years ago over 80 percent of mobile transactions value across China was in the hand of Alipay. Today, its share is at 54 percent, while WeChat Pay climbed to 40%.