Tencent brings third player UnionPay to China’s mobile payments arena

Tencent, the Chinese technology conglomerate and parent company of WeChat, has teamed up with Chinese state-owned UnionPay to use the same QR codes on mobile payments, Caixin Global reports.

The move sees new player UnionPay secure a significant foothold in China’s mobile payment arena, upsetting the the two-company monopoly held until now by Tencent and Alibaba.

Tencent confirms it is collaborating with UnionPay “in a number of fields on a trial basis”

UnionPay’s status as a state-owned entity will see China’s central bank edge closer to its goal of system integration in mobile payments, both domestically and overseas.

The integration of QR codes will mean Tencent and UnionPay customers can transfer or spend money using the same smartphone symbols. A Tencent representative confirmed that it is collaborating with UnionPay “in a number of fields on a trial basis”, according to Bloomberg.

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The two companies have also agreed to work together on facial recognition-powered payments, Caixin Global sources close to Tencent and UnionPay revealed.

As the next biggest mobile payment provider in China, UnionPay’s mobile payments wallet QuickPass is still someway behind Alibaba’s part-owned Ant Financial which operates Alipay, and Tencent’s WeChat in terms of user base. Alipay hit 900 million customers in November 2019, whilst WeChat currently has 1.2 billion customers according to Statista.

Launched in December 2017, QuickPass serves just 240 million users. Set up by lenders from Chinese banks including the Bank of China and the Industrial and Commercial Bank of China, UnionPay was always designed to create room for more than just two players in the country’s mobile payments market.

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