Bottom line: A strong reception for Apple Pay from consumers, banks and merchants bodes well for the service, which should attract a major audience among iPhone users but won’t pose a major threat to rival services from Alipay and WeChat.
The launch of Apple Pay in China is buzzing through the local headlines a day after the roll-out, in a move that looks certain to shake up a stodgy industry dominated by homegrown names like Alipay. The most revealing headlines report on the rush by everyone, from consumers to banks and merchants to jump onto the Apple Pay bandwagon. That reflects the buzz that any major move by Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) can create in the world’s largest smartphone market.
Local consumers are undoubtedly pleased that Apple chose China for the Asia launch of Apple Pay, selecting their market over more traditional candidates like Japan and South Korea. China is only the fifth global market for Apple Pay, following launches in the US, Canada, Britain and Australia. The pride element at being first in Asia, combined with Apple’s existing premium image here, will draw a big majority of Chinese iPhone and iPad users to try out Apple Pay on their devices. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Tencent would be wise to roll back a newly announced money-transferring fee on WeChat following state-media criticism, which could indicate a tougher stance by Beijing due to the platform’s increasingly dominant position.
It’s been quite a while since the last tussle between China’s influential central media and its vibrant private sector, so I was amused to read of a new flare-up in that regard after Tencent(HKEx: 700) said it would start charging fees for a money-transferring service on its popular WeChat platform. This looming flare-up has seen the state-run Xinhua news agency, often considered the voice of Beijing, criticize WeChat’s move as “excessive goose plucking”, which is quite a vivid description and certainly not too complimentary.
This particular assault is somewhat noteworthy, as it hearkens back to another similarly high-profile spat involving Tencent and WeChat 3 years ago. That tussle came as WeChat was beginning its meteoric rise, and saw leading telco China Mobile (HKEx: 941; NYSE: CHL) accuse the service of stealing its traditional SMS text messaging service. Tencent insisted at that time that WeChat would always remain free, defying China Mobile pressure to charge for the service and then divide the fees between the 2 sides. (previous post) Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Apple Pay’s upcoming China launch and WeChat’s roll-out of fees for its cash-providing service reflect growing competition in the e-payments market, which will result in a long and costly battle among major players for market share.
The rapidly heating China market for electronic payments is in a couple of top headlines today, led by highly anticipated news that Apple (Nasdaq: AAPL) will launch its Apple Pay service in China later this week. At the same time, separate media reports say that Internet giant Tencent (HKEx: 700) is taking a major step towards monetizing the e-payments service attached to its wildly popular WeChat instant messaging service.
The pair of headlines underscore just how much potential both domestic and foreign companies see in the China electronic payments market, which is growing rapidly as consumers and companies do more of their buying online. Some new data nicely summarizes the market, with leading e-payments firm UnionPay reporting that transactions processed over its network soared 30 percent to 312 billion yuan ($48 billion) over the week-long Lunar New Year holiday last week. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Results from Chinese New Year promotions show that WeChat will continue to dominate over Alipay in gift-giving and other friend-to-friend transactions over the mobile Internet due to its original design as a SNS service.
Most of China has been on holiday these last few days, but leading Internet companies Tencent (HKEx: 700) and Alibaba (NYSE: BABA) have been working overtime trying to put the best possible face on dizzying numbers from their red envelope gift-giving promotions over the holiday.
Tencent is focusing on the headline figure of 8 billion money-filled virtual red envelopes, known in Chinese as hongbao, that changed hands on its wildly popular WeChat messaging service through the second day of the Lunar New Year. Alibaba, meanwhile, is focusing on its own headline figure that shows its Alipay electronic payments service received a whopping 21 billion hits per minute at the height of a New Year’s promotion it held with leading TV broadcaster CCTV. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: Baidu’s reported plan to spin off many of its non-core units for separate listings in China looks like a smart move to attract Chinese buyers for its newer businesses while retaining US investors for its lucrative core search business.
Leading search engine Baidu(Nasdaq: BIDU) is reportedly eyeing plans to spin off many of its smaller units for IPOs in China, marking a novel alternative for the growing number of Chinese tech firms torn between listing at home and in the US. The US was the traditional choice for listings by Chinese venture-backed tech firms for most of the last 2 decades, since domestic listings were difficult or impossible during that time due to a heavy bias towards big state-owned companies.
But more recently China has rolled out a new group of boards aimed at attracting high-growth venture-backed companies. The earliest of those, the ChiNext board launched in 2009, has proven quite successful, nurturing such high-flyers as online video site LeTV (Shenzhen: 300104) and film production company Huayi Bros (Shenzhen: 300027). A more recently launched over-the-counter (OTC) board has also proven quite popular, and Shanghai plans to launch its own emerging industries board later this year. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: A subdued mood at Chinese high-tech firms’ New Years parties reflects a growing realism that the days of breakneck growth may be over for many, due to stiff competition and a slowing domestic economy.
The Year of the Monkey is still more than a week away, but already online gaming giant NetEase (NYSE: NTES) is taking the prize for most unusual New Year’s party for including sex toys among its cache of prizes during the lottery at its annual bash. Meantime, stumbling smartphone sensation Xiaomi ushered in the New Year with an unusual dose of new realism from chief Lei Jun, who also added a bit of historical revisionism in a bid to cheer up staff at his annual party.
Theses yearly parties are a good indicator of how companies feel about their performance in the previous year, and also offer some insight into their mood going into the year ahead. A media report sums up highlights from some of this year’s biggest parties, which typically bring together hundreds and sometimes thousands of employees at a single event to celebrate the New Year as a corporate “family”. Read Full Post…
Bottom line: The new alliance between Tencent and Zhejiang TV reflects the growing strength of China’s big Internet companies in online video, and will benefit but also challenge both sides.
By Lin Nanwei
Last week’s World Internet Conference in the scenic water town of Wuzhen attracted media attention due to attendance by most of the sector’s top leaders, even though few said anything substantial. But Tencent(HKEx: 700) Chairman and CEO Pony did a little homework before he came.
The day before the curtain came down on the big event, Ma appeared at another event in nearby Hangzhou to announce a strategic partnership between Tencent and Zhejiang Television & Radio Group, the province’s largest state-owned TV broadcaster. According to reports, the 2 sides will focus on cooperation in development of content, channels and promotional activities. (Chinese article) Read Full Post…
Bottom line: A new global car services alliance led by Didi Kuaidi and Lyft won’t pose a serious threat to Uber, though the company could face ongoing challenges in China from Did stakeholders like Tencent.
Uber’s road into China hasn’t been an easy one, and 2 new developments reflect the growing challenges it will face from incumbent players and their backers in what’s likely to become the world’s biggest market for hired car services. The bigger of those 2 news items has Uber’s chief China rival Didi Kuaidi forming a global alliance to counter the rapid rise of the US giant.
The latter news has local social networking (SNS) leader Tencent (HKEx: 700) locking Uber out of its hugely popular WeChat instant messaging platform for at least the second time this year. The reports cite Uber’s malicious sales practices as the reason for WeChat’s decision, and it’s true that the company is known for its aggressive tactics to win business. But it’s also noteworthy that Tencent is a major stakeholder in Didi Kuaidi, and no one would be surprised if WeChat’s move was at least partly aimed at protecting that investment. Read Full Post…
The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on December 9. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.
China Resources Challenges ON Semiconductor with Fairchild (Nasdaq: FCS) Bid (English article)
Postal Savings Bank Signs China Life, Ant Financial, Tencent as Investors for HK IPO (Chinese article)
Google (Nasdaq: GOOG) Registers Company in Shanghai Free Trade Zone (Chinese article)
ZTE (HKEx: 763), Shanghai Oriental Pearl in Strategic Cooperation (HKEx announcement)
Uber Releases China ICP Permit Number in Response to WeChat Blockage (Chinese article)
Bottom line: Lack of revenue figures in a wealth of new data on WeChat indicates the service continues to lose big money, and could become a drag on Tencent’s profits if commercialization efforts don’t accelerate soon.
Social networking giant Tencent(HKEx: 700) has just released a wealth of information about its wildly popular WeChat, including a headline figure that the wildly popular mobile messaging service now has a whopping 570 million active users. But missing from the wealth of new information are any meaningful monetary figures, reflecting the slow progress that Tencent is making in commercializing a service whose huge popularity also means its quite costly to operate.
People love to talk about WeChat and how popular it is, but you see far less discussion about how much money Tencent is losing on the service. There’s even less discussion of when it might become profitable. But all that said, Tencent is such a cash-rich company it can easily afford to keep pouring money into WeChat for the next decade or more until the day when profits finally come. The big risks, of course, are that investors may not be that patient, and that newer and more popular services could come along. Read Full Post…
The following press releases and media reports about Chinese companies were carried on October 27. To view a full article or story, click on the link next to the headline.