Toutiao moves into payments with purchase of payment agency Ulpay

Toutiao has quietly acquired its own online payment license meaning that China’s most popular news aggregation app may go after a chunk of the mobile payment market shared by WeChat Pay and Alipay. The company has bought a 100% stake in Ulpay (合众支付), an online payment agency based in China’s Hubei province, according to 36Kr (in Chinese).

Jinri Toutiao has yet to confirm the news. According to media reports, the company has stated that the deal is confidential.

Toutiao already laid out its own insurance and loan businesses with the company forming an insurance business team in early 2017. Insiders say that the company is planning to acquire an insurance brokerage license. In July last year, Toutiao applied for a small loans license in Yinchuan, Ningxia province.

Similar to insurance licenses, online payment licenses are getting harder to get by in China which is why Toutiao is buying a company that already has one. Chinese ride-hailing firm Didi did the same at the end of December 2017 by acquiring third-party payment services provider 19Pay for RMB 300 million. Chinese O2O giant Meituan Dianping got its license back in September 2016 by acquiring Qiandaibao Payment.

Toutiao has already set its foot into AI. Acquiring a payment license is a solid foundation for developing its own fintech business.