China’s ubiquitous payment tool Alipay just added a separate access point for mini-programs at a prominent position on the homepage of its mobile app. The move underlines an imminent official launch of the feature, local media is reporting. Alipay responded to the news shortly with a confirmation, adding that the launch is slated as early as this week.

With WeChat’s launch of mini-programs at the beginning of last year, Chinese tech giants have been engaged in an initiative to kill off native apps. Alibaba’s spin-off Ant Financial is in no place to fall behind with the launch of mini-programs for Alipay. The app opened its own mini-programs for beta testing among regular users in September 2017, one month later opening up to developers. But the company has been moving slowly with the project since then.

Putting mini-program in a more prominent position could be translated as an increasing focus on the feature. Alipay homepage is a much-coveted place, which could generate billions of traffic for services. Data from third-party research institute Analysys shows that Alipay now claims more than 486 million monthly active users as of the end of June 2018. Its app center is the most visited page.

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Emma Lee

Emma Lee is Shanghai-based tech writer, covering startups and tech happenings in China and Asia in general. We are looking for stories related to tech and China. Reach her at lixin@technode.com.