Tencent teams with state-backed UnionPay on mobile payments

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Tencent Holdings Ltd. and China UnionPay Co. will soon unify the mobile codes that consumers scan to pay for purchases, granting the Chinese central bank-backed network a bigger foothold in a $27 trillion payments arena.

Tencent and UnionPay have agreed to integrate their QR code systems, allowing their respective customers to transfer or spend money using the same smartphone symbols, state media including Caixin reported on Wednesday, citing unidentified sources. A Tencent representative said the company is collaborating with UnionPay in a number of fields on a trial basis. A UnionPay representative declined to comment.

The tie-up may help UnionPay, a network set up by top lenders from Bank of China to Industrial & Commercial Bank of China, carve out a bigger slice of a market long dominated by Tencent and Alipay, the digital wallet owned and operated by Jack Ma’s Ant Financial. Under the agreement, customers using UnionPay’s Quickpass or WeChat Pay -- the de facto payment service on Tencent’s ubiquitous messaging platform of the same name -- will scan the same QR code from merchants, Caixin reported.

Alipay, which is part-owned by e-commerce giant Alibaba Group Holding Ltd., isn’t in similar integration talks, Caixin added. Once China’s dominant online payments provider thanks to its prominence on Alibaba’s online malls, Alipay has in recent years come under attack from Tencent’s rival offering, which is available to a billion-plus WeChat users.

China’s central bank has pushed for system integration in mobile payments, both domestically and overseas. The EMVCo consortium, which includes UnionPay, Visa Inc. and Mastercard Inc. as its members, created a QR Payment Mark to promote global payments unification in 2018.

Bloomberg News
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